Irony: Joran Fears For His Life In Peruvian Prison

Illustration for article titled Irony: Joran Fears For His Life In Peruvian Prison

Joran Van der Sloot has told Peruvian police that he wants to reveal the location of Natalee Holloway's remains. Not because he cares about the case, but because he thinks it might save his life.

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Yesterday, People magazine reported that Sloot, who is currently being held in isolation in the high-security Miguel Castro Castro prison in Lima, told officials that he will cooperate with efforts to find the body of the American teen who went missing in Aruba in 2005. According to a Peruvian newspaper, Van der Sloot believes that if he comes clean about Holloway, he will be able to buy himself some protection from the other inmates at Castro Castro.

While he awaits trial Van der Sloot will be kept in relative isolation. However, Castro Castro does not have a "proper isolation system like there is in the United States," says Leonardo Caparros, former director of the organization that oversees Peru's prison system. Which means that Van der Sloot may well find himself at the mercy of the other prisoners. Capparos says he is right to fear for his life, since even hardened criminals don't take too kindly to his type. "I don't think that so many people will be able to sympathize with somebody who killed little girls. Criminals have codes, you know. . . . I guess many people in jail will not like that."

Police officials have already branded Van der Sloot as a "psychopath," though his cousin, Natalia den Boer, disagrees. "Joran isn't a monster and isn't a serial killer," she told the AP. "I think that Joran needs help. Because something is bad in his head." Bad in the head might be putting it a bit lightly - even Van der Sloot has described himself as a "snake" and a "pathological liar."

The bit about the snake was gleaned from Van der Sloot's YouTube account, which, along with his Facebook profile and his DateInAsia.com profile page, has been raked for insight into the mind of the confessed murderer. This is what we know about him so far: If he had to describe himself as an animal, "it would be a snake," though "one day [he] will be a lion"; he enjoys Johnny Walker, Notorious B.I.G. and Katy Perry; he likes "pissing in random places when totally drunk/wasted," Heineken beer and Barack Obama and one of his favorite songs is "Fear" by Drake. What does this tell us? Not a lot, really - it probably says more about our morbid fascination with the mentality of serial killers than it does about the man himself. Though it does make him sound rather normal, as several family members and former girlfriends have continued to claim. Yet even den Boer admits that there is something wrong. A former friend describes his attitude as "arrogant, like nobody can do anything to me; he wasn't shy about it." Van der Sloot may have his defenders, but no one can claim that he was a "good guy."

As evidenced by the continued interest in even the more mundane details of his life, Van der Sloot has become something of a celebrity in Peru and abroad. A Global Radio Network correspondent reported that Peruvian officials have taken to parading Van der Sloot before jeering crowds. Every time Van der Sloot is moved, mobs appear, and "sometimes they are encouraged by authorities. There is a high level of public anger. People are predicting where he would be and what time." Though the anger is certainly justified, their desire to make an event out of every Van der Sloot appearance seems unnecessary and distasteful. At this point, it should be clear than he wants to be known for his crimes, he enjoys toying with the public and teasing police with lies. Our appetite for details has turned him into a celebrity, which not only puts him in danger in the Peruvian prison system, it also makes us all somewhat culpable in feeding the pride of a potentially sick man. Once a snake, Joran may be feeling like something of a lion right about now.

Bracketed By Crimes: Van Der Sloots Last 5 Years [Newser]
Joran Van Der Sloot "Could Easily Be Killed In Prison" [Radar]
Van Der Sloot: I'm A Snake [Newser]
Joran Van Der Sloot Fears For His Life In Peruvian Prison [People]
'Slay' Thug Mugging For The Camera [New York Post]

DISCUSSION

verbosity-old
Verbosity

There's been a lot of discussion of this guy being mentally ill and needing help, and it makes me wonder about where we draw the line between illness and peoples' essential nature. As the article says, everything about this man other than his having committed murder seems perfectly normal; what, then, makes him sick? If he's a sick person who needs help, then is everyone who does things that most people would consider unimaginably cruel a sick person who needs help? If a sociopath is someone who is completely rational and in control of their actions, but simply has no regard for other people, then to me it's strange to class them with someone like my good friend who struggles with psychosis. Does a modern worldview exclude the possibility of monstrous behavior that has no cause other than the essential cruelty and lack of humanity of the perpetrator? What does a person have to do to be considered not sick, but simply evil? When we hear stories about people who are unusually kind, selfless and heroic we don't rush to a diagnosis; why can extreme goodness be chalked up to someone's essential nature, while extreme wickedness demands a neat explanation? I'd love to hear what other Jezebels think about this, since it's something I've been thinking a lot about.