"We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance."
-Benjamin Disraeli , Prime Minister of the UK (1804-1881)
It was the 30th of May 2010. Twenty one year old Stephany Flores was at a Texas Hold em' tournament in the Atlanta City Casino in Lima, Peru. She was an avid poker player and just a couple of nights before, she won $10,000. That night, she told her father that she would take part in the tournament and would be home afterwards.
Stephany lived with her father. He was well known in the community. In fact, the entire family were popular in the area. Her father, Ricardo Flores,was a former race car driver and a Presidential candidate. His four sons ran an event planning business. Stephany was the only girl in the family and had four brothers. They treated her like a queen and gave her whatever she wanted. But Stephany was not demanding. She was polite and respectful and loved meeting new people. She was in her third year studying business administration at University of Lima and worked in the merchandising part of her brother's event business.
When Stephany didn't come home after the tournament, Ricardo rang his son Enrique Flores. It was not like Stephany not to be home when she said she would. Enrique went to the house and called all of her friends. None of them had heard from her or knew where she was so he called the police to report her missing.
Police went to the hotel where the tournament was held and got surveillance footage. They found footage of her on it and she was at the tournament as planned. Footage showed Stephany entering the room where the tournament was around 3am and she sat next to a blond man who was already sitting at the table. They left together just after 5am. People in the hotel remembered seeing them together. One employee even described the man's looks as similar to that of Brad Pitt.
Further footage was found and showed Stephany and the man entering a hotel room at 5.16am. The man left a while later and returned with two cups of coffee and bread. Three hours and twenty minutes after they first went into the hotel room together, the man left again with his backpack. He told the hotel staff not to disturb the girl in the room.
Surveillance Footage from the Hotel
The room, room 309, was registered in the man's name. And it was a name that authorities were all too familiar with. Joran van der Sloot. Twenty two year old Joran, a Dutch national, was long suspected to be involved in the disappearance of American Natalee Holloway. Natalee went missing in Aruba on the 30th of May 2005. Exactly five years to the day that Stephany was last seen.
After police showed Enrique and his father the surveillance tape, staff at the hotel gave them Joran's name. Enrique's wife googled the name Joran van der Sloot. She began screaming when she saw the results and his connection to the Natalee Holloway case. Enrique said:
"I couldn't believe it. How could it be that guy?"
Just one hour after that google search,on the 2nd of June 2010, Stephany Flores was found dead in the hotel room. She had been badly beaten. Investigators retrieved a tennis racquet from the room that they believed was involved in her death. Her neck was broken.She had blood coming from the left side of her head, from her ear and her nose. And there was blunt force trauma to the back of her head and her lower neck. The blunt force trauma caused hemorrhaging in the brain and caused death.
Authorities knew exactly who they were looking for. They knew from the surveillance footage and hotel staff that Joran had left the hotel on the 30th of May. Police released his picture and description to the public and following a tip off, they arrested him in Chile on the 3rd of June. It appeared that his plan was to try to make it to Aruba as his ex girlfriend claimed that he text her to ask for money to cover the cost of a flight. He had travelled from Peru to Chile via two taxis driven by two brothers. They had no idea what he had done. When arrested, he had clothes in his possession with blood on them.
Joran was brought back to Peru. When initially questioned by police, he insisted that he was innocent. He said that an armed man entered the hotel room. Four days after his arrest, he finally confessed. He told police that he saw Stephany looking at his laptop and a message popped up relating to his involvement in the Natalee Holloway case.
Joran told police that he was drunk at the time. He had ten drinks, whiskey and Pisco. According to Joran, when Stephany saw the message and Joran explained about Natalee's case, Stephany freaked out and hit him. He hit her on the nose with his elbow and then began choking her. There was blood everywhere and blood on his shirt so he took his shirt off and put it on her face, pressing hard. He kept the pressure on until she was dead. Joran said that he had to do it because he was afraid she would go to the police. He described it as an:
When Stephany was found she was fully clothed and lying on her back. She was not sexually assaulted. Police wanted to know if rape was not Joran's motive, then what was? He told them that he simply lost control:
"She hit me in the head. I lost control of my actions."
He told them it was an impulsive act after receiving a blow to the head when Stephany hit him. But police believed his motive may have been robbery. He took Stephany's money when he left the hotel.
Joran van der Sloot
Joran knew that he now faced a lengthy prison sentence in Peru so he tried to make a deal with the authorities. He promised to tell police in Aruba where Natalee's remains are if he didn't have to face Trial. Authorities did not agree and he was sentenced to twenty eight years in prison. He later claimed that he only agreed to confess because his lawyer told him that he would serve a maximum of fifteen years. He also said that he was forced to confess.
When Joran serves his sentence in Peru, he will be extradited to the United States of America to face wire fraud and extortion charges. In 2014, Joran married a Peruvian woman named Leidy Figueroa and they had a child. She met Joran when she was visiting a relative in prison.
Joran has never been charged in relation to Natalee Holloway's disappearance but he will be extradited to the US on the wire fraud charges when his sentence is finished in Peru so maybe further details will emerge.
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"But I'm a woman, and as the great poet so cleverly wrote, hell hath no fury as a woman scorned. Consider me your personal hell."
"Trust your hunches. They're usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level."
-Dr Joyce Brothers
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