Skip to main content

Tests may soon tell if bone in Holloway case is human

By the CNN Wire
Click to play
Jawbone found: Is it Natalee Holloway's?
  • Authorities say definitive testing may take about a week
  • An initial test indicates the bone belongs to a young woman, prosecutor says
  • If the bone is human, DNA testing will be conducted
  • The jawbone was found near an Aruban hotel

(CNN) -- Investigators could know as early as Thursday whether a jawbone found on an Aruban beach last week belongs to an animal or a human, authorities said.

If it is human, authorities will then attempt to find out whether it belongs to missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, who was last seen on the island in 2005.

Part of the bone is undergoing forensic testing at the Netherlands Forensic Institute in The Hague, Netherlands, according to Aruban prosecutor Peter Blanken.

Blanken originally said the results could be in as early as Wednesday, but later said that a technical delay means the tests will take a little longer.

"They are testing for a DNA match," said Blanken.

Jawbone found in Aruba
Beth Holloway: I still have hope

Inge Oevering, a spokeswoman for the forensic institute, said the length of testing will depend on the condition of the material, but it normally takes about a week.

The institute's findings will be sent back to the prosecutor's office in Aruba, which will decide whether to make the results public, she said. Oevering declined to provide a description of the material.

Blanken said a part of a jawbone with a tooth was found on Friday by an American tourist near the Phoenix Hotel, a large resort on the western side of Aruba. He took it to the police, Blanken said.

Contacted by CNN, the hotel referred questions to local authorities.

The Dutch paper De Telegraaf similarly reported Tuesday the jawbone was found near the Phoenix Hotel, a location that has been mentioned by Joran Van der Sloot, who was arrested twice in connection with Holloway's disappearance but has not been charged. He has maintained his innocence in her disappearance.

The newspaper said a tourist couple found the bone on the beach and turned it in to the hotel clerk, who alerted authorities, offering a slightly different version of events than Blanken.

The prosecutor said the bone was initially examined by a forensic expert in Aruba, who determined the bone was from a young woman. But Blanken cautioned the final determination would be made by the forensic institute in the Netherlands.

Holloway was 18 when she was last seen in the early hours of May 30, 2005, leaving an Oranjestad, Aruba, nightclub with van der Sloot and two other men. She was visiting the island with about 100 classmates to celebrate their graduation from Mountain Brook High School in suburban Birmingham, Alabama.

Van der Sloot, 23, is jailed in Lima, Peru, awaiting trial on a murder charge in the death of Peruvian student Stephany Flores. Her body was found in May in a hotel room registered to van der Sloot. The two were seen entering the room on a surveillance camera.

Van der Sloot is also charged with a count of wire fraud and a count of extortion in Alabama for allegedly attempting to extort more than $250,000 from Holloway's family in return for disclosing the location of her body.

HLN's Rupa Mikkilineni, CNN's Susan Candiotti, Laura Perez Maestro, Brian Walker and CNN Radio's Ninette Sosa contributed to this report.

Watch Nancy Grace Monday through Sunday starting at 8 p.m. ET on HLN. For the latest from Nancy Grace click here.