When So-Called Closure is Anything but

A Missing Person Monday Thought

I was not surprised to see that Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee Holloway (the widely publicized missing person case involving the young American who disappeared from Aruba in 2005), was able to sneak into the Castro Castro Prison and speak directly with prime suspect Joran Van der Sloot.

Ok, I did not expect her to be able to have an unapproved conversation with Joran in what is supposed to be a maximum security facility, but I wasn't shocked that she tried such an approach.

Speaking with persons like Van der Sloot, who at the least I believe is a sociopath, is unbelievably frustrating.  This type of person lies often and effortlessly.

What did Joran say this time about Natalee's disappearance?  Will it include portions of his previous tales or be new information?

Only the folks who were there know that.

And unfortunately, trying to obtain the truth about missing persons from disreputable defendants and getting nothing but frustration is not uncommon.

In May of 2009, the family of missing (and presumed deceased) San Diego State University student Donna Jou met with the man who plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter involving their daughter (though no body has ever been found). 

John Steven Burgess, a registered sex offender, was sentenced to five years in prison in relation to Jou's suspected death. 

Here is an excerpt of the meeting via the press:

...John Steven Burgess, 36, met for two hours at a downtown jail with Reza and Nili Jou to answer their questions about how their daughter died nearly two years ago. The meeting came one day after Burgess pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Donna Jou's death.


"He said she went to sleep in a chair and at 6:30 or 7 the next morning, he felt something was wrong with her and felt her pulse and knew she was gone -- those were his words," said Jou family attorney Gloria Allred, who attended the meeting. "At one point he was crying."

Burgess said he met Donna Jou through an ad on Craigslist. He said she was looking for people to party with. He admitted giving her heroin and cocaine at his house, and panicked when he found her dead the next morning.

Allred said Burgess told the family placed the body in the trunk of his car and began driving to her home in Rancho Santa Margarita. While en route, he changed his mind and instead drove to the marina where he kept his sailboat. He said he dumped the body into the ocean then fled to Florida.


Burgess had just finished a three-year prison sentence for failing to register as a sex offender.

He was convicted of three counts of battery in 2002 and of performing a lewd act against a child the following year...

According to the family profile on Donna, she graduated from high school with a 4.4 GPA, scored over 1,500 on the SAT, and planned to eventually attend medical school.  She was a volunteer at a local battered women's shelter, and had placed the Craigslist ad (referred to above by Burgess) looking for side-jobs as a math tutor.  

It makes lots of sense with her achievements and dreams, that she was scanning an Internet posting board for guys in their mid-30s to "party with." 

Yeah, sure...

As Reza Jou, the woman's father, said after the interview: "there is nothing to prove or disprove of his statements..." 

Donna's mother, Nili Jou, was reduced to sobs at a press conference--pounding her fist on a table and asking "Why?  Why?"

I can't imagine the pain that these families of missing persons go through: from the disappearance, to the not-knowing, to the criminal justice system. 

Even sometimes, family members are afforded the opportunity to speak directly with a suspected abductor; only to have what is presented as "closure" is anything but that.

32 comments:

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Slam..Even sometimes, family members are afforded the opportunity to speak directly with a suspected abductor; only to have what is presented as "closure" is anything but that. .so true and so profound.

Anonymous said...

As the "Victim" of a crime I can say this, there is no such thing as "closure" as provided by the perp. I wasted too much of my life searching for that. The fake applogies and empty promises only hurt more. It took me everything I had, it nearly too my life...to discover that closure came from with-in me. My ability to heal and to move on with my life. I gave closure to myself. The person who hurt me, who wronged me. He didn't do that I did. I wish I could tell these women that now, share with them my experience. SO they don't waste their lives searching for something that will never be found.
Annonmouse-S

Luisa Doraz said...

Wow, it is a road that would be hard to travel, but you must if you are to continue, right? Hope all is well. :cool:

J. J. in Phila said...

I don't think you actually know what goes on in someone else's mind. You can get close, but it can be impossible.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Yeah shit happens so shit a brick, build a bridge and get over it.

joanny said...

I found it difficult to image and to what avail would it do to talk to such a person. I guess I do not know or understand the pain or anguish the families are going through, but I cannot image myself talking to such persons either.

do they think the bodies will be recovered through the confession and repentance talking to the family member? Then they can bury the loved one?

The peace can only come from within and from God.

A hard and difficult challenge.

Joanny

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

I believe that the only kind of closure anyone gets is to stop persuing what happened, trying to relive it over and over, seeking answers that will never come instead of focusing on the wonderful memories of the missing person and to start living again.

I personally know how difficult this is to do, but if you don't give yourself closure, as Anonymous said, you'll never heal.

Lt said...

Call me crazy, but if someone murdered or raped my daughter, my closure would be a .223 round through their cerebral cortex.

Elena said...

There can be no closure when dealing with a sociopath...I've been dealing with one for three years since my dad was found dead. My only attempt at "closure" has been through writing a book. I can't wait to be done so I can stop opening the wounds everytime I open the document.

Anonymous said...

I always motivated by you, your views and way of thinking, again, thanks for this nice post.

- Norman

Diane said...

Very sad and frustrating for her. I hope she did not do anything to jeopardize her case.

Matthew Rush said...

So sad. I must admit that even though I know intellectually that nothing can be gained from meeting with these kinds of killers if I were the parent of a lost child I would not be able to help it.

I imagine I would end up like Samuel L. Jackson in A Time to Kill.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Very interesting post! I've always followed the Natalee Holloway case because I was about her age and knew that scene of being away from your parents, partying for the first time, it just really hit home. I don't know a parent could ever move on even after their "closure."

Tamika: said...

I ache for these families. The sick people who inflict this type of harm will forever elude me.

To even think of being in the presence fills me with trepidation.

Tara said...

The pain that these people have gone through is unimaginable. I can only hope I never have to know it.

Elana Johnson said...

I so agree. It's impossible to tell lie from truth, and often the attempt to find closure only opens up more questions.

Beth Zimmerman said...

That is just beyond sad! I can't even imagine the pain of not knowing for sure where my child is or what happened to them. Imagination is often so much worse than truth.

Kathryn said...

"Well done with the interview.

I found Jenny's response to the question about her fav work interesting--that she didn't know but could talk about strips that she did not do well. That sounds like a perfectionist and I am sure that quaility serves her well."

Thank you I am glad you enjoyed it! She really is a wonderful person! :) Thanks for commenting and have a great day!

soccermom said...

I agree I am somewhat going thru something that I would love closure but will probably never get, No I have not lost any love ones.

But I do get the part about not getting closure when you truly need it.

kathryn said...

I do not think I could face these men and ask them to explain in detail my loved one's last moments of life...these men who'd supposedly taken their lives.

These are sadistic monsters to begin with...what makes these parents think they'll come away with? Comfort? A better understanding of why it happened?? It gives me chills...

BobKat said...

"Closure" is in meeting with the alleged murderer of your child, and looking them in the eye, asking the QUESTION!

Victims rarely get that opportunity, and when they do, it's not the answer that's important. It's the question, "WHY?"

Brian Miller said...

nice counterpoints...i think there is good that can happen between victim and offender...but only if the offender admits guilt...in the case of a psychopath such as this forget it...

Opus #6 said...

Terrible. Given his history, he probably targeted her through her Craigslist ad, and assaulted her. A horrible way to die, at the hands of a sex offender. Heartbreaking. :-(

Miss Caitlin S. said...

I was really intrigued to read about Beth going to speak with Joran. He fascinates me. Not in a good way but I felt his guilt from the very beginning and clearly, in the meantime- everything has drawn me closer to that conclusion. I too wondered how she was able to meet with him and how he even came. I don't know, people like him disgust me but also fascinate me to no end- I literally eat up everything I can about Columbine high school...- it's so hard to understand. I will say though, I was in a bad, bad, bad, bad relationship with a man who I jokingly called a sociopath to my friends but realized how much that may have been dead on. He literally treated me more horribly than the bad guys in movies and did all that that entails but somehow charmed others around him- lied, changed his stories and had no emotion about doing so. Clearly he wasn't a murderer, but he was a horrible person and it was interesting to really see that and note what was going on. At some point, I was very sucked into it- I'm not that girl now, but I can have an understanding how someone could get under a blind spell like that.

malone8 said...

I believe that Beth Holloway deals with her pain by going after this scum.

I don't believe we ever have "closure" … only moving forward.

All the best - Maxi

carma said...

Joran being a complete psychopath, the only words coming out his mouth would have been lies. Every interview he has done has been that way.

ooglebloops said...

The only real "closure" if there is such a thing in these cases, that Beth could possibly have, is the retrieval of her daughter's body. I would certainly want to know, for sure, that my child was no longer living. It would not cure the pain of her being gone, but would take away the uncertainty. The answers will not come from the killer.

jodeeluna said...

Speaking as a parent, I imagine the compulsion to find answers and closure would drive me to seek a face-to-face encounter with my child's murderer. Yet I wonder how many situations like this actually help the victim's parents reconcile their grief. How can the nightmare ever go away, even when the facts come to the light.

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Momma Fargo said...

Always interesting twists in your Missing Person updates. I guess as a mother, I may have done the same...they just want to know what happened to their child and why. Can't really blame them. Sometimes they never get answers.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
I don't know how to answer the closure question at all. No matter what you learn and how much people apologize, it still happened.

So, meeting with the one who did the harm (and that can be a lie too) might get you something, but it just means your reconciliation or closure will include that you did everything you could.

I suppose.
Ann T.

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