Aruban helicopter search fails to find body of missing American girl

A helicopter equipped with infrared technology searched unsuccessfully for the body of a missing American teenager, an official said Thursday, as investigators sifted through items seized from the island home of a justice official whose son was with the young woman the night she disappeared.

Also Thursday, a judge was to rule on a petition from the justice official, Paul van der Sloot, to see his jailed 17-year-old son, Joran. The judge was expected to rule as well on a request from lawyers defending the youth and his two Surinamese friends to see any evidence authorities have gathered. Van der Sloot, from Holland, is training to be a judge in Aruba, a Dutch Caribbean island.

More than two weeks after 18-year-old Alabama resident Natalee Holloway went missing, numerous searches by authorities, volunteer islanders and tourists have led nowhere, and no one has been charged in the case. Authorities have refused to say whether they think Holloway is dead.

On Thursday, however, Police Supt. Jan van der Straaten told The Associated Press that they used the helicopter "to search for possible remains - but found nothing."

He declined to say where the helicopter searched or whether authorities believed there was a body to find.

On Wednesday, investigators brought in from Holland and police using a German Shepherd searched the van der Sloots' one-story, yellow-beige home, where Joran lived in an attached apartment. Agents were seen carrying two white garbage bags filled with items from the house, while authorities towed away a blue sport utility vehicle and a red Jeep from the property in Noord, outside the capital, Oranjestad.

Van der Straaten declined to give details on what they found. "We are still busy with the investigation and interrogations of suspects," he said Thursday.

Following the approximately four-hour search, Attorney General Caren Janssen clarified that Paul van der Sloot was not under investigation.

Asked why it took investigators more than two weeks after Holloway's disappearance to search the van der Sloot home, Janssen said Thursday, "You have to build up an investigation. You can't just go in there like a cowboy, you have to give certain direction to investigators."

Joran remains in police custody along with Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18, of Suriname. The three were questioned and released shortly after Holloway's May 30 disappearance. They were formally arrested last Thursday.

The two brothers have told police that they and Joran were with Holloway and that she and the Dutch youth were petting in the back seat of their car. The detainees initially said they took Holloway to a beach on the northern part of the island then dropped her off at her Holiday Inn hotel, where they claimed she was approached by a security guard.

But Antonius "Mickey" John, a former hotel security guard released from custody on Sunday, told reporters that Deepak Kalpoe told him during a chat in jail that he and his brother actually dropped the young van der Sloot and Holloway off together near the Marriott, about 10 blocks north of the Holiday Inn. John said he passed the information on to police.

Kalpoe's lawyer would not comment on John's statement Wednesday, but said his client maintained his innocence.

Van der Straaten declined to give a timeline Thursday on when the investigation could conclude, or when Joran and the Kalpoe brothers might either be released or formally charged.

He dismissed rumors that police may investigate coastal waters on the north side of the island known to have sharks. "Sure, we have shark places on the northern side, but they have nothing to do with the investigation," he said.

Holloway was celebrating her graduation from Mountain Brook High School, near Birmingham, Alabama, with 124 other students and seven chaperones when she vanished during the early hours of May 30. Her U.S. passport and packed bags were found in her room.

The law says authorities can hold detainees for up to 116 days without filing formal charges. The three young men have been in custody since June 9.

It was not immediately clear why van der Sloot had not been allowed to see his son or whether the youth's mother had been allowed to. After the three young men were detained, the attorney general's office said Dutch law permits parents to see minors in jail.

Aruba follows Dutch law as a former colony in the Netherlands Antilles, from which it seceded in 1986 to become an independent member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer

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