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Natalee Holloway Search: Jaw Bone Found

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 17, 2010 6:16 AM

Is there finally a break in locating missing student Natalee Holloway? Reports say that a jawbone has been found on a beach in Aruba, close to Phoenix hotel, a location mentioned by murder suspect Joran Van der Sloot. Long the main suspect in the Holloway disappearances, Van der Sloot has been arrested twice in connection with the student's disappearance, but has never been charged.

There has been no comment by Dutch authorities on the exact condition of the bone found and turned over by tourists, reports CNN. The jawbone has been sent to National Forensic Institute in the Hague, Netherlands for testing. The first set of tests will determine whether the bone is from an animal or a human. If human, the Dutch authorities will attempt to create a DNA profile to compare with that of Holloway. According to a spokeswoman from the Forensic Institute, depending on the condition of the material, the full process will take about a week.

The prosecutor's office in Aruba will be responsible for making the results of the tests public, reports CNN.

If a death can be confirmed in the here, a homicide case can more easily proceed. The actual death of the victim is an element that must be proven in a case against a defendant for murder. Circumstantial evidence can be used if a body is never located or identified, but those cases can be much harder to win. However, it should be remembered that circumstantial evidence is just as valid as first-hand evidence such as DNA samples or eye-witness testimony.

Even as Van der Sloot maintains his innocence in connection with Natalee Holoway's death, he awaits trial in Lima, Peru for the murder of Peruvian student Stephany Flores. Flores' body was found in a hotel room registered to Joren Van der Sloot.

As discussed in a prior post, Van der Sloot was 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 information regarding the location of her body.

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