So I arrived in Lima Peru for my moonlighting job as a poker journalist covering the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT). The minute I got off the plane I heard on the news that
Joran Van der Sloot, the suspect in the Natalee Holloway case was involved in the slaying of 21 year-old Stephany Flores of Lima.
The two met at the Atlantic City Casino--where the LAPT was being held--and were captured together on security video. This was mere hours before I headed to the casino.
I asked the guy in charge of LAPT registration if Van der Sloot was registered as a player in the tournament. He said there was no record--Van der Sloot was merely a "railbird" as they say in poker slang--standing elbow-to-elbow with the other spectators.
The Hotel TAC in Miraflores, where the murder took place, was an eerie sight--mere blocks from where I was staying.
Though the sign beamed OPEN, newspaper covered the windows preventing anyone from looking in.
The local Lima news brigade was camped outside the hotel trying to get comments from people, who were being questioned by the police, as they exited. Concerned hotel employees occasionally ducked their head outside the newspaper covered door--it's not good for business to be known as the murder hotel.
"We're trying to look for the police video," informed a local reporter. Despite the fact that the news stated that Van der Sloot and Flores were noted going alone to his hotel room, the reporter mentioned, "They are looking for another guy who was with him who they saw on the hotel security video." The reporter then proceeded to try and get a comment from a scared, tearful woman vacating the premises, while the police coroner also brushed them aside.
Just like in the States, the true victims of these sad, oversaturated news stories get lost in the sensationalistic headlines. It's disturbing how one could go from amongst the railbirds as poker fan at one of the best poker tournaments in the world to brutal sociopathic killer as quick as the flip of a river card.