Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
Natalee Holloway was huge news back in 2005. When the US teenager vanished while on a senior trip to Aruba, the world took notice. Horrified parents worried over their kids, and the story created a major travel PR crisis.
Natalee disappeared after an evening out with her friends at a nightclub in Aruba. The news coverage was practically round the clock for weeks, inspiring scores of stories in the tabloids and crime periodicals. No body was ever found, and no concrete evidence linking anyone to the crime was ever uncovered. For a short time, another tourist, Joran van der Sloot, was suspected. He was eventually cleared, though he is now in prison for killing another young woman a few years later.
That fact created an entirely new set of speculations. Rumors swirled. No one seemed to know what happened to Natalee, but everyone seemed to have a theory. Some of those theories led TV producers to put together a “documentary” about Natalee’s disappearance.
The documentary was presented as a six-episode series that aired on cable TV last year. In that show, there was a bombshell that purported to reveal the location of Natalee’s remains. Critics say the producers knew the bones shown in the series were not those of Natalee since prior to testing that, in the production, was shown to be “inconclusive.”
At least one person close to the case is calling the documentary a “fake,” and she is fighting mad. Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, is demanding damages of at least $35 million from the documentary’s producers, contending that the production was fake and that she was duped into participating against her will.
Holloway claims producers tricked her into, among other things, offering them a DNA sample to try to match that sample with remains they claimed might be Beth Holloway’s missing daughter. Holloway says the alleged deception subjected her to “agonizing weeks” of long waiting that “completely and utterly destroyed” her.
These comments come from the lawsuit, in which Holloway is asking for $10 million in compensation as well as $25 million in punitive damages against Oxygen Media, which is connected with NBCUniversal, as well as Brian Graden Media. The respondents elected not to respond to media requests for any comment.
According to Beth Holloway’s suit, the documentary series was a pre-calculated “farce” that was scripted with the intention of creating “an impression of real-time events” when the producers knew full well they didn’t have what they were teasing. In addition to this complaint, Beth claims that the producers used contact from Natalee’s father, Dave, to dupe her into turning over a DNA sample to help hype up the supposed discovery of the remains.