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Missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway's killer has confessed

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The mother of the Alabama teenager who went missing in Aruba in 2005 finally found out what happened to her daughter today. As part of a plea agreement, Joran van der Sloot confessed to murdering Natalee Holloway. Reporter Melanie Peeples was in the courtroom in Birmingham.

MELANIE PEEPLES: It's not a conviction of murder, but the guilty plea that Joran van der Sloot entered in court today included sitting down with Beth Holloway and explaining what happened to her daughter. Holloway addressed a throng of reporters outside the federal court in Birmingham.

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BETH HOLLOWAY: It's been a very long and painful journey, but we finally got the answers we've been searching for for all these years. We finally - today, we got justice for Natalee.

PEEPLES: Holloway says van der Sloot told her that he did indeed kill her daughter after she rebuffed his sexual advances and then threw her body into the ocean. He won't serve time for the murder, but Beth Holloway says finally getting an admission is enough.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HOLLOWAY: Joran van der Sloot's confession means we have finally reached the end of our never-ending nightmare. And for me, reaching the end of the nightmare, being over, is better than closure.

PEEPLES: Van der Sloot was a main suspect, but law enforcement officers on the Dutch Caribbean island never managed to mount a successful case and ultimately closed it. Five years after killing Natalee Holloway, van der Sloot murdered a college student in Lima, Peru, and has been serving a prison sentence there ever since. But what brought him to Alabama was his attempt to sell information to Beth Holloway in 2010. She paid him $25,000, but van der Sloot lied to Holloway. That got him federal charges on extortion and wire fraud. In today's plea agreement, van der Sloot will be sent back to Peru, where he's expected to serve 22 more years in prison.

For NPR news, I'm Melanie Peeples in Birmingham. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Melanie Peeples