There have been two major breaks in the latest investigation into the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, with the discovery of new remains and a shocking admission from the best friend of her alleged killer.
The first big break comes in the form of four bone fragments which have been found in Aruba and are now being tested to determine if they are a match to Natalee.
The results of those tests will not be available until October 6, but at least one of the fragments has already been confirmed as a possible match to Natalee in that it belongs to a single human of Caucasian, European descent.
At the same time, Natalee’s father Dave and private investigator TJ Ward managed to track down John Ludwick, the man they were told helped Joran van der Sloot dispose of the teenager’s body after her death.
Ludwick confirmed those claims in an interview that aired this past weekend on ‘The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway,’ telling Ward that he and van der Sloot had Natalee’s remains cremated and then scattered her ashes in the ocean.
He also confessed to burning Natalee’s skull himself, stating that he doused it in gasoline and then set it on fire inside a cave in order to destroy any identifying hair fibers.
The finale of the series will air at 7pm and 9pm ET/PT this Saturday on Oxygen.
All that remains: Four bone fragments have been discovered in Aruba and are now being tested to see if their DNA matches that of missing teen Natalee Holloway (above in her last ever photo on the night she went missing in 2005)
Wait and see: The results of those tests will not be available until October 6, as the traces of mitochondrial DNA in the bones are tested against the DNA of Natalee’s mother (fragments above)
Shock and awe: The fragments were discovered in the wake of an interview with Joran van der Sloot’s best friend John Ludwick (above), who said he cremated Natalee’s body in 2010
Switching his story: Ludwick (above with van der Sloot in 2007) also told investigator TJ Ward that he burned the missing teen’s skull after dousing it in gasoline to destroy all her hair fibers
Ludwick appeared surprisingly emotionless and composed in a clip of his bombshell interview.
In that preview, Ludwick detailed how van der Sloot offered him $1500 to dig up Natalee’s body back in 2010 and then have it cremated on the island.
That proved to be a bit of a process however as it was illegal to cremate humans at that time, forcing Ludwick to bring the remains back to his aunt’s property and crush them up first.
‘The idea was to crush everything to the point where it wasn’t recognizable as her bones or skull or anything like that,’ revealed Ludwick.
‘The only thing that got burned was the skull to burn the hair fibers. It was doused in gasoline in a fire pit in a cave.’
After the skull had been burned and all the bones crushed, van der Sloot added in some dog remains, and once at the crematorium Ludwick said he told the worker that he had lost a pet.
‘I went in there with $200 cash, and said: “This dog means a lot to me and, freakin’, I don’t want anyone to be the last one to touch it except me. If I give you $200 can I push it in myself?” revealed Ludwick.
The two men then borrowed a fisherman’s boat and took the ashes out to sea, where they scattered the remains according to Ludwick.
This admission by Ludwick does not mean that the bone fragments could not still be a match however, as they are all smaller than four millimeters and could have easily been left behind by the men.
The fragments only contain traces of mitochondrial DNA however, meaning that they will take longer to test and can only be compared against Natalee’s mother Beth and not both parents.
The interview marks a shocking departure from Ludwick’s past claims about the case, which he has managed to keep mostly quiet about over the years.
Picture perfect: Natalee Holloway in her 2005 yearbook photo (above)
When he did speak however, Ludwick made a point of staunchly defending van der Sloot against any claims or allegations that he had murdered Natalee or had anything to do with the disappearance of the 18-year-old Alabama student.
Ludwick could not hold back from sharing details about how he claimed Holloway died however and where she was buried during her final night in Aruba, which eventually caught up with him after his former roommate told Ward and Dave about the young man’s account.
Dave has said this self-funded investigation into his daughter’s disappearance will be his last, no matter what the result.
It will also mark the end of his decade-long relationship with Ward, who has been working for the family since shortly after Natalle disappeared back in May 2005 while on a class trip.
Soon after she went missing, the investigation led police to van der Sloot.
Natalee’s friend Jessica Caiola, who was on the Aruba trip, previously said on the docu-series that van der Sloot was frequently spotted around the group during their vacation on the tiny Caribbean island.
‘I remember seeing Joran van der Sloot at the casino at our hotel. That was the first time I saw him and I remember chatter of him. ‘He’s so cute,’ ‘Who’s going to hook up with him?’ Those sort of things were floating around. That was probably the extent to which I got close to him,’ said Caiola.
‘I don’t even remember if Natalee with with him at that point, or if any of us were necessarily with him. What I can tell you is he was there multiple nights of our trip. I believe it was the second to last night I saw him at the casino.’
And she is certain she saw home on that final night.
Ludwick said he and van der Sloot then borrowed a boat and scattered Natalee’s ashes at sea (above a map of Aruba showing Natalee’s only known locations on the night she went missing)
Opening up: Jessica Caiola (above) was one of the high school students from Birmingham, Alabama who went on a graduation trip to Aruba with Natalee Holloway
Run of his life: Dave Holloway’s self-funded investigation into his daughter’s disappearance is the focus of the show, and he has said if nothing turns up he will accept the reality of the situation and stop with the searches (Dave above)
‘He was absolutely at Carlos’n Charlie’s, 1000 percent,’ stated Caiola, who added that for the next few years she would frequently be called in by the FBI to recount her final night with Holloway.
‘Natalee and I were actually talking at the bar and interacting and having a good time,’ recalled Caiola of the hours before Holloway disappeared on the island.
She also revealed that while she believes van der Sloot killed her friend, she is not certain when that death happened, believing it was likely after she was reported missing.
‘I thought she was still alive and she had been sold or traded, something of that nature and we could find her,’ said Caiola.
‘The reason I though this is there was no tinge of her clothing.’
The series kicked off with Ludwick’s former roommate Gabriel providing Dave with a play-by-play account of what allegedly happened the night his daughter went missing, saying that van der Sloot had asked the bartender for two drinks and to ‘fix it good.’
Those drinks were laced with the date rape drug GHB according to Gabriel, and soon after van der Sloot gave one to Natalee she allegedly began ‘foaming at the mouth.’
Van der Sloot, who has never been charged with the murder or disappearance of Natalee, has admitted to giving her a drink that night.
‘He panicked, he didn’t put her on her side or nothing, and she choked on her vomit,’ claimed Gabriel.
Van der Sloot did not say anything according to Gabriel because of the GHB, claiming he was giving the date rape drug to ‘all the girls’ and was afraid of getting in trouble with the police.
Gabriel said that instead, van der Sloot called his father Paulus, who allegedly arrived on the scene and got ‘pissed’ when he saw that the young woman was dead.
‘And he says [to his son], ‘OK, wait here,’ and he goes back to the house and gets a burlap,’ said Gabriel of Paulus’ next move.
‘He comes back and says, ‘OK, she doesn’t fit here.’ So he stomps on her legs and cracks her legs and puts her in the burlap and folds her over.’
At that point Dave asked Gabriel to confirm that this was Paulus doing this, to which he responded: ‘Yes.’
Cuffed search: Van der Sloot (front) walks handcuffed with police near Palm Beach, Aruba in July 2005 (above) during search for Natalee
Family ties: Ludwick alleged that van der Sloot killed Natalee and his father Paulus helped him dispose of the body (Paulus and Joran in December 2007 after the young man was released from custody)
Paulus van der Sloot was also never charged with the murder or disappearance of Natalee, and passed away in 2010 after going into cardiac arrest while playing tennis.
‘So they grab her and put her in the back of [Paulus’] car and they drive her to a park. Amd they pick a spot, puts her in, covers her up and his dad goes, ‘grab that cactus, that will just cover everything up,”continued Gabriel.
‘And his dad goes, ‘Don’t you tell nobody. Nobody.’ But he told John.’
Dave has said in the past that when he met Paulus the man told him that he had to do everything he could to protect his son and would not cooperate with any investigation.
Van der Sloot is serving a 28-year sentence in Peru after being convicted of killing 21-year-old student Stephany Flores Ramírez in 2010, five years to the day of Holloway’s death.
He is set to be extradited to the U.S. after completing his sentence in 2038 to face charges he tried to extort money from Holloway’s family.
Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, alleges that van der Sloot told her he would reveal where her daughter’s body was located for $25,000 in cash.
Van der Sloot married Peruvian Leidy Figueroa in July of 2010.
A month later, authorities sent him to the infamous Challapalca prison located high in the Andes when he threatened to kill the warden of the lockup he was being held in near Lima.
Figueroa spoke for the first time soon after that in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, insisting that van der Sloot is ‘gentle, sensitive, kind’ and ‘no monster.’
She also insisted that her husband had changed since they started an unlikely prison romance four years ago, saying he was a ‘different man’ after finding God and had been ‘seeking forgiveness’ for the evil he committed in the past.
Figueroa did not reveal what ‘evil’ was she was referring to at the time.
In September of that year she gave birth to the couple’s first child, a baby girl.
They named the baby Dushy after van der Sloot’s grandmother.
A few month after that van der Sloot was stabbed in prison according to Figueroa, though a warden later claimed that this was untrue.