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Officials shift search for missing Ala. teen

Associated Press
Published June 15, 2005

ORANJESTAD, Aruba - Police joined by two FBI bloodhounds began a new search on a beach near a Marriott Hotel on Tuesday for a missing Alabama teenager after a former security guard alleged that one of three youths seen with her had lied to police.

Antonius "Mickey" John, who was released from jail Monday, said he was detained in a cell adjacent to one of the young men and that the two spent time talking.

John, 30, said 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe told him that he, his younger brother and their Dutch friend never returned to the Holiday Inn the morning of May 30, the day Natalee Holloway disappeared on this Dutch Caribbean island.

Instead, Kalpoe said they dropped the Dutch youth and Holloway off near the Marriott, about 10 blocks north of the Holiday Inn, John said. The area being searched, Malmok beach, neighboring the Marriott's Palm Beach, is a popular spot for picnics and family gatherings by day and is favored by lovers at night.

The two Surinamese brothers told police that the 17-year-old Dutch boy and Holloway were kissing in the back seat of a car earlier in the evening and that they had dropped her off at the Holiday Inn where she was staying.

Holloway, 18, vanished hours before she was expected at the airport to return home after a vacation with 124 classmates and seven chaperones celebrating their graduation. Her passport and packed bags were found in her room.

No one has been charged in the case, and lawyers for the three men still in custody and the two freed men all say their clients are innocent. Lawyers for the three young men did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Police on Tuesday cordoned off several blocks in front of the Marriott Hotel and a patch of swampy tropical vegetation beside it, and government spokesman Ruben Trapenberg confirmed it was yet another search for the teen from Mountain Brook, Ala. A couple of the teen's family members arrived, and fire trucks pumped water from the swampy area.

The search ended as darkness fell, with nothing found.

After Holloway disappeared, U.S. authorities sent FBI agents and divers to help in the search.

The release from jail of John and another former hotel security guard, Abraham Jones, 28, came after the teen's mother, Betty Holloway Twitty, told the Associated Press that she believed John and Jones were innocent but that the three other youths should be pressed to tell the truth.

"I knew from day one that I was innocent," John said after his release from detention that began June 5.

John and Jones were detained after the three young men said they dropped Holloway off and last saw her about 2 a.m. being approached in the parking lot of her hotel by a man in a security guard uniform.

Holloway Twitty said if she did not see results soon, she might start to believe authorities were trying to protect the young men, who told police they took Holloway to a beach after an evening of dancing and drinking.

[Last modified June 15, 2005, 00:44:10]

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