Joran Van der Sloot accused of extortion

Joran Van der Sloot (June 3, 2010, source FOX video)
Joran Van der Sloot (June 3, 2010, source FOX video)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Joran Van der Sloot, the longtime suspect in the disappearance of missing Mountain Brook teenager Natalee Holloway, has been accused of asking for $250,000 in exchange for her whereabouts.

In a criminal complaint filed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney in Birmingham, Van der Sloot was accused of asking for $250,000 from a person in Birmingham in exchange for information about the whereabouts of her remains in Aruba.  Holloway disappeared in Aruba in May 2005 during a senior trip to the island.

Joyce White Vance, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, discussed the criminal complaint during a news conference Thursday in Birmingham. She said Van der Sloot was charged with extortion and wire fraud. She refused to identify who in Birmingham Van der Sloot contacted to attempt the extortion.

Van der Sloot was arrested earlier Thursday in Chile on charges of murder in the death of a young woman in Peru. He's accused in the violent killing of Stephany Flores, 21, in a hotel in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, five years to the day after Holloway disappeared.

Vance said Thursday's announcement, on the day Van der Sloot was arrested, was pure coincidence. She said the FBI would work with Interpol to arrange a day when Van der Sloot can be brought to Alabama for arraignment.

Fernando Ovalle, deputy spokesman of Chile's national investigative police, told the Associated Press Van der Sloot was arrested while traveling in a taxi, about halfway to the coast on Route 68.  Ovalle said Van der Sloot did not resist arrest and has been calm under detention.

Flores was killed exactly five years after the May 30, 2005, disappearance of Holloway during a high school trip in Aruba, a Dutch Caribbean island where van der Sloot's late father was a prominent judge.

Van der Sloot was twice arrested but later released for lack of evidence in the 2005 disappearance of Holloway in Aruba. Prosecutors said van der Sloot is still their main suspect in the case even though he was never charged.

No trace of her has been found and van der Sloot remains the main suspect in the case, Ann Angela, spokeswoman for the Aruba prosecutor's office, said Wednesday.

Two years ago, a Dutch television crime reporter captured hidden-camera footage of van der Sloot saying he was with Holloway when she collapsed on a beach from being drunk. He said he believed she was dead and asked a friend to dump her body in the sea.

Judges subsequently refused to arrest van der Sloot on the basis of the tape.

A spokeswoman for Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty of Mountain Brook, Alabama, told the AP the family was aware of the development in Peru but would have no comment.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.