On the day Joran Van der Sloot pleaded guilty to killing Peruvian college student Stephany Flores and was sentenced to 28 years in prison, he wrote his benefactor, Dr. Mary Hamer, a series of letters designed to persuade her to continue supporting him. The divorced radiologist, 55, had decided to cut him off after hearing his guilty plea, and she demanded that his attorney give back the $75,000 she had sent him for what she described as bail money.
“You will always be in my heart, but this, what you are doing to me now I do not comprehend. Why do you want to hurt me?” Van der Sloot, 24, writes in the first handwritten letter.
Hamer wants the money returned immediately, she told attorney Jose Jimenez, who received the funds in November and was supposed to hand them over to Van der Sloot. Jimenez said he never used the term “bail” with Hamer, “because it was never an option,” he said. “I said many times that we would file for habeas corpus, being that my client had been imprisoned for over 18 months without a trial. If we would have been successful, he would have had expenses to cover, like an apartment we were setting up for him, just in case.”
Described as Van der Sloot’s “benefactor” in the Peruvian press, Hamer said in an interview with Newsweek in late November that she was drawn to the Dutch national on the day he was arrested in Chile for Flores’s murder in June 2010. She first saw his image on television, handcuffed and being led by police to his extradition back to Peru.
Hamer said it was then she felt a need to reach out and help Van der Sloot, whose name had already been linked repeatedly to the 2005 disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway in Aruba. Hamer contended that Van der Sloot had been set up in Flores’s death; she spoke of conspiracy theories and insisted that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She took on the task of supporting him and sent him large sums of money, cleaning supplies, and books. As his “guardian angel,” a name she chose for herself, she doggedly sought to convince the Peruvian authorities to release Van der Sloot to her custody, promising she would rehabilitate him.
“My humble request for clemency and mercy for the honest and sincere confession of Joran Van de Sloot,” she wrote in an email on Jan. 12, a day before the final hearing. “In 2022, Mr Van der Sloot will present his thesis of peace to the Peruvian people and the world.”
The Lake City, Fla.-based Hamer now says she was swindled out of her $75,000 and accuses Van der Sloot’s attorney, Jimenez, of unprofessional conduct.
But in late December, Hamer hinted in an email to Jimenez that he could use the money to bribe prison authorities not to transfer Van der Sloot to a prison over two hours north of Lima. “Joran can use the money however he wants,” she wrote. “For example, if the director threatens to send him to [another prison, Piedras Gordas], to use this money to negotiate with the director and keep Joran safe.”
“She proclaims his innocence through incoherent arguments and has discredited me in the process,” said Jimenez.
The attorney says he returned the money to her over Van der Sloot’s objections, though she says she has not received it.
As Van der Sloot tries to win Hamer over once more, two more notes show how desperately he has been pleading for her support. One contains an accounting summary of the money he had tucked away in his attorney’s savings account, and a note on the bottom begs her to continue supporting him. He says he not only needs $69,000, but also another $1,000 to buy a new phone.
”Please don’t take any action until we are able to speak again,” he writes. “I beg you to hold on until that time so I can explain everything to you. I will show you that you have always been right about me.”
For the homicide of the 21-year-old Peruvian, whom he met at a poker championship in Lima in May 2010, Van der Sloot could have gotten a life sentence had it not been for the state attorney’s 30-year deal. The panel of judges who ruled on the sentence offered a reduced term in exchange for what Peruvian law calls a “sincere confession,” permitting him to conclude the trial quickly, accepting all the charges described in the formal investigation and accusation.
“What me and Jimenez did was the best and now I still have my appeal to a higher court, which is much more serious,” Van der Sloot writes.
The prisoner sounds optimistic. He still hopes to reduce his sentence further with an appeal and reminds Hamer that once he has completed a third of his sentence, he will be eligible for parole. What she doesn’t know is that getting parole involves an application process in which he will have to prove he has met the conditions of his detainment, including work and/or study hours, plus good conduct.
On Jan. 14, Van der Sloot was transferred to the maximum security prison Ancon I, once known as “Piedras Gordas” or “Fat Rocks,” which holds the country’s highest-profile criminals and is considered the most modern penitentiary in Peru. It has a cellphone jammer installed that may hinder further communications with Hamer.
Still, money is an issue for Van der Sloot. Shortly after reaching Ancon I, Van der Sloot’s accounting shows he withdrew an additional $500 for his own use behind bars. And from Jan. 3-11, he retrieved more than $1,400 in cash, spent $1,500 in legal fees for December, and used $40 on calling cards.
And now that Natalee Holloway has been declared legally deceased, the case in the United States is expected to take a sharp twist: the Holloway family attorney in Alabama has requested Van der Sloot’s extradition.