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Joran van ver Sloot and the end of the Natalee Holloway media circus

When you saw his pasty pale-skinned face, your eyes became glued to TV. You debated his innocence as if he was O.J. Simpson. Blowhards, from Nancy Grace to me to Dr. Phil kept track of his every movement.

He is Joran van der Sloot, and ever since his high profile role in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway came to light, the mere mention of his name could directly lead to production of a Dateline NBC Special. But to those who have shuddered at the amount of media attention given to a double-murderer there is hope, as two recent events spell the end of Joran van der Sloot’s time in the spotlight.

Recently in Lima, a Peruvian court found Joran van der Sloot guilty in the murder of Stephanie Flores, the daughter of an influential businessman. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison for strangling the young woman, after becoming enraged that she used his laptop and found stories on the internet linking him to the Natalee Holloway disappearance. Now, for the next 14 to 28 years, this animal will be left to rot, literally, in a harsh Peruvian prison.

The same week Joran van der Sloot was found guilty, an Alabama judge declared Natalee Holloway legally dead. The decision enables family members to clear up inheritance issues and estate issues. Holloway’s body was never found.

To us, the outsiders, combined with Joran van der Sloot’s imprisonment, the declaration of Natalee Holloway’s death decreases the likelihood that we’ll be hearing much more about this story. And we shouldn’t. After all, people are murdered all the time, so not to take away from the suffering of Natalee Holloway’s family, but there are plenty of other murders that could have been given media attention. Instead of highlighting more meaningful events, the media turned a death into a circus and a murderer into a celebrity.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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