Bon Dia: Diving Experts will assist Texas Equusearch for ‘fish trap’ Search


Translation of the Bon Dia article: January 18, 2006

Beth Twitty pays for search in the sea
Diving experts will assist Texas Equusearch for ‘fish trap’ search

O R A N J E S TA D — J a m e s Whitaker, underwater search expert will assist Texas Equusearch in what the director says is the last attempt to find Natalee Holloway.

An emotional Miller said that he never thought he would stop the search. He continued to look for a way to bring more sophisticated equipment to Aruba, especially after the tip that came in that fishermen lost a fish trap, and that perhaps those who disposed of Natalee Holloway put her body in this ‘crab cage’, along with some rocks, and later threw it at sea, around 3 to 5 miles outside of Aruba. The fish trap is not a verified story, especially given that no one placed a complaint or spoke publicly about losing a fish trap.

According to Miller, it was Commissioner Dompig during an interview with America’s Most Wanted, who spoke of the fish trap which disappeared from the fishermen’s hits and that perhaps was used to disposed of the missing teenager. According what Miller said to Bon Dia Aruba yesterday, it was the intention of Dave Holloway, the representative of the state of Kansas Patricia Kilpatrick and Tim Miller to search the dump. “We knew that we didn’t have sufficient equipment to do the work, and out intention was to prepare the work to return, among other things to send equipment from the US to Aruba. At that time, it was Gerold Dompig who told us that he wanted us to do a search some 3 to 5 miles outside of Aruba, because on the night/early morning hours of May 30, there was a theft at the fishermen’s huts. Stole were a knife, some rope and also a fish trap. And it was the Commissioner who suggested that there was a possibility that rocks were put in the basket and then thrown into the sea”, Miller said.

Information that Bon Dia Aruba has shows that it was the private investigator Art Wood who was one of the ones who came up with the fish trap story. And he went to inform police about this, which in turn advised Texas Equusearch of the case and that it would be good to search for the ‘crab cage’.

So began the process that with the authorization of the investigative team, began a sophisticated search of the bottom of the sea to determine if this fish trap, in the first place was thrown in the water, and if the body of Natalee was in it. On the other hand, Bon Dia Aruba was the first to report of the theft in one of the stalls at the fishermen’s huts, and the official report was that missing were a machete, a knife and fishing rope. Executives of the Nederlands Forensics Instituut took fingerprints of the hits and the results are known by the police. Then, there was an agreement between the police force and the Equusearch group to undertake the search in the sea. However, the process stalled in October, when the communications between the group and police broke down.

This time, Miller returned to Aruba with Whitaker, who has equipment that goes more deeply than those that detected the Titanic and met with Commissioner Dompig to se if now there is the possibility to be able to perform this search.

According to Miller, Commissioner Dompig said that he still believes in the possibility that the fish trap could play a role in solving he case, and also he said to the director of Equusearch to look for another barrels, to not let anything go.

But Miller is not very optimistic. According to the director of Texas Equusearch, there is a very small possibility that the fish trap will solve the case or let them find Natalee. “However, even if that chance is 1% and we do not pursue this 1%, it will follow us the rest of our lives”.

Miller is certain that everyone involved in this search is not costing anything to Aruba, only to contribute to show the world that Aruba worked with Whitaker and Texas Equusearch to find Natalee.

It is good for Aruba to realize who is behind this search, and it is no one other than Beth Twitty, who thanks to big donations in the US, can pay some 60 to 70 thousand dollars that this search will cost. “I asked Beth if she is sure that she wants to do this, given that the possibility that the search will be successful is very small. Her answer was that we must go forward, no matter what the cost”.

James Whitaker is a ‘remote sensor specialist’ and participated in various deep sea searches with his sophisticated equipment. One of these was to recover the body of passengers of a Boeing 747 which fell in the Indian Ocean. More still, he does archeological and commercial work, such as placing large telephone cables at the bottom of the sea.

Miller got in contact with Whitaker for the big work in Aruba. In the first instant, he wasn’t convinced that he could do the work, since finding a body at sea is almost impossible. But the possibility of find a body in a fish trap is bigger, and as such, he agreed.

Contrary to as first thought, Whitaker is not a part of the forensic dive team of Florida State University. This FSU team came to Aruba twice already and dove in the whole area south of Aruba. The difference is that the FSU divers could go only to a depth of 150 ft., while the sonar equipment belonging to Whitaker can detect objects to a depth of 1000 ft. (around 300 meters). And the area where this will be is more or less 5 miles northwest of Aruba. The expert said that one must realize that this is an area where boats pass, and that for decades perhaps many things have been dumped,

In other words, he believes that there will be many things found at the bottom of the sea. His equipment can detect the fish trap, if it is there. But it is not an easy process given everything that could be at the bottom of the sea.

The reason why they have to get a special boat from Venezuela to do the work, is because it has to be one that is sufficiently big to be able to carry the equipment.
Once something is detected, the Aruba police force will be advised, at which time they have to give an order to take out the material from the sea. They will not do anything without police authorization, Whitaker assured Bon Dia Aruba. “It becomes a crime scene and there will be trustworthy witnesses and police authorities to verify that everything goes well”. And the only way, if it results that there is an object to take out of the sea, is to use a remote operation vehicle, since it is not possible for people to five to these depths.

There is still not an exact date that they will start. This will be determined once Whitaker has the logistics prepared. The search itself could last a couple of days.

Whitaker believes that if indeed a fish trap was used to dispose of Natalee and that it was thrown in the area, then he will be able to find it. But Whitaker and Miller are aware that the probability of this is very small.

And Miller, how he has said on various occasions, reiterated that after this search, he knows in his heart that he did everything possible to locate the young woman, so that the family can go on with their lives.

Contrary to what he said in the US, he believes that Commissioner Dompig and the investigative team is really working hard to solve the case. “I don’t want to have their work, because they have no evidence to work with. The case turned very provocative and the pressure upon the team is immense. I am convinced that they are determined to solve the case, and like her parents, police want to find Natalee.”

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