Searching For Natalee: AMW Producer's Diary Day 3
A Creepy Thursday In Aruba
This is the third in a series of journal entries AMW correspondent Rick Segall wrote as he searched in Aruba with Dave Holloway, Natalee Holloway's father, and the EquuSearch team.
There is nothing neat and tidy about the Natalee Holloway investigation. Sometimes you just go down the path and see where it leads you. And sometimes it's just darned creepy.
That's what happened on a Thursday morning last week in Aruba. Tim Miller, the director of EquuSearch, was planning to do a low-altitude helicopter search. But he got sidetracked by an island local with "crucial evidence" concerning Natalee's disappearance. The man (I'll call him "Gerard") said he didn't know who to trust with the evidence -- he wanted Tim to see it first.
So Gerard led Tim to a heavy black trash bag tied with a rope. He refused to tell Tim what was in the bag. "Not here," said Gerard. "We have to go somewhere more private." Gerard insisted on lifting the heavy bag himself and placed it in the truck of Tim's rental car. On the drive, Gerard started talking in mysterious riddles and innuendo -- likely the result of drugs he admitted to taking.
Tim pulled up to my hotel and said I could get in the car with my little home video camera -- not the big, professional TV camera. Joining this excursion was not about getting a scoop for AMW (in fact, the compelling cloak-and-dagger tale never aired on the show). Tim and I agreed that my presence was important for "evidentiary value" -- to record the episode in case there actually was anything important in that trash bag.
We drove around for a little longer as Gerard told me about the "powerful draw" of young girls like Natalee and informed me that many people on the island make it their business to know when the "beautiful young girls from the States" are scheduled to come to Aruba. This guy was 100% creepy. He insinuated he knew lots of important information. But when pressed, Gerard provided us with nothing but blank stares and silly riddles.
Finally, we pulled down a long road completely hidden from any people or passing cars. Gerard informed us that this spot met with his satisfaction. We could now see what was in the trash bag. As I got out of the car, my heart was pounding 100 beats a minute. Whispering, I suggested to Tim that we use my cell phone to let someone know where we were located. I wasn't convinced that this half-drugged "informant" was completely safe. Tim was more comfortable with Gerard than I was. I think he also worried that a phone call would spook our paranoid tipster. So Tim gave me a little wink, indicating that a phone call wasn't necessary.
The bag and the prospect of what was inside terrified me -- mostly because Gerard wouldn't verbalize it. Was it Natalee's clothing? The bag was too heavy for just clothing. Was it parts of a body? Surely they wouldn't be in a flimsy trash bag.
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The Search For Natalee Holloway: A Producer's Diary - Day 2 »
Searching For Natalee Holloway - New Clues? Or Old Rumors? »
Tim untied the cord and cautiously opened the bag. His eyes saw inside before my camera could focus on the dark contents. But in a split second, the expression on his face turned from apprehension to skepticism. Tim reached inside the bag and pulled out a long, sandy rope. After a few seconds of silence, Tim turned to Gerard with raised eyebrows, as if to ask the question "What's this?"
Gerard stated that he was sure the rope had something to do with Natalee's disappearance. But after fifteen minutes of questioning by Tim and me, Gerard could not tell us when he found the rope, where he found the rope, or why he thought it could have anything to do with Natalee's disappearance. No credibility. Just the ramblings of a paranoid person on drugs. Gerard, a grown man, began mumbling that his father was looking for him and he'd have to get back to town. We dropped Gerard off after giving him a lecture about the desperate need for Natalee's family to have some closure. After Gerard walked away, Tim pounded the steering wheel and screamed "A whole wasted morning!" I knew he was right, but I also knew we had no choice. It could have been some evidence to break the case wide open. Instead, we had taken a road that led us nowhere.
That's the way I feel every day now on the Natalee Holloway case. With so little communication and cooperation coming from the Aruban Police, Natalee's family and those trying to help them solve the case are forced to wander down whatever road presents itself.