In a case that that already weighs heavily against Joran Van Der Sloot in a circumstantial sense, HLN’s Nancy Grace reported that Peruvian police revealed Thursday evening finding minute fragments of skin embedded under the fingernails of Stephany Flores Ramirez. Although lab test results still have not confirmed whether or not the trapped skin holds Joran Van Der Sloot’s DNA, many believe that the findings will point in his direction. And if the lab results show the DNA to be Van Der Sloot’s, it would also reveal that the 22-year-old Dutchman being held for murder may have lied in his confession and that Stephany Flores Ramirez may have been defending herself in the last moments of her life.
Catching Joran Van Der Sloot in a falsehood is nothing new to authorities who have dealt with him over the years. The Dutchman remains the prime suspect in the Natalee Holloway disappearance case in Aruba, a case in which he told various conflicting stories of the time he spent with Holloway on the night she disappeared. Although arrested twice with regard to the disappearance, Van Der Sloot was released because of lack of evidence. Even a secretly taped confession (where Van Der Sloot admitted to perhaps witnessing the death of Natalee Holloway and hiring a boat to take Holloway out into the Caribbean to dump her body) wasn’t used in 2008 after Van Der Sloot maintained that he made the entire story up for the benefit of the reporter. Just days before his confession to Peruvian authorities, he told Chilean police who had picked him up on an international arrest warrant that he had not killed Stephany Flores Ramirez.
But even without his confession that he killed the 21-year-old business student because, according to him, she had “intruded into (his) private life” by reading a message on his laptop concerning Natalee Holloway, it will be difficult for his defense attorney(s) to counter the evidence of the Lima hotel surveillance tapes that put him in the room where Stephany Flores Ramirez’ body was found. When the body was found on Tuesday evening, June 1, it was determined that she had been killed on May 30 (coincidentally, five years to the day from the date Natalee Holloway disappeared) and surveillance tapes would show that Joran Van Der Sloot arrived with Stephany Flores Ramirez, entered his room with her, but would exit alone. No one else would enter or leave the room until the body was found.
However, Joran Van Der Sloot now claims that he was “tricked” into his confession and that he was not responsible for the young woman’s death. He said he was intimidated into confessing and that he was not given proper counsel. It will be up to a jury to decide whether he lied in his confession or began lying afterward when he realized that he could face the death penalty or life in prison.
A DNA match with the skin fragments to Joran Van Der Sloot would also complicate Van Der Sloot’s confession. He told Peruvian authorities he had hit her with his elbow across her nose, causing her to hit her head agains the wall, dazing her. He then choked her to death. The cause of death report corroborates the statement, finding that Stephany Flores Ramirez was asphyxiated. But if the confession were true, how did his skin get underneath her fingernails? Skin deposits usually indicate an employment of defensive force, a scratching or clawing action.
Van Der Sloot already faces charges of robbery and murder. The former charge stems from missing cash (the young woman had won $4,000 at a Lima casino where she met Van Der Sloot) and credit cards not found at the death scene. If his DNA is matched to the skin fragments under Stephany Flores Ramirez’ fingernails, he could face attempted rape charges as well.
Joran Van Der Sloot was placed in isolation at the notorious Miguel Castro Castro Prison in Lima after being charged in the death of Stephany Flores Ramirez. It may be over a year before his case goes to trial.
“Nancy Grace,” HLN Television via CNN.com