Joran van der Sloot was arrested last week for the alleged murder of a 21 year old Peruvian woman who accompanied him back to his hotel room in the early morning hours.  Van der Sloot, best known for his connection with the disappearance of high school student Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, confessed to the murder, claiming that he became enraged after discovering that the woman had researched his background on the internet.

Young men and women who travel abroad are particularly inclined to seek adventure and “let down their guard” with new acquaintances in foreign countries, taking chances they would never take back home.  Even those who normally exercise good judgment have a tendency to slip and do things out of character — even to the point of trusting total strangers.  Alcohol and drugs can play a big role, but even those who are not impaired can be seduced by locals who facilitate admission to exclusive night clubs and private parties.

Even worse, there are a number of medications such as rohypnol, GABA and ketamine, that when added to drinks cause victims to have total loss of memory and judgment.  These are the so called “date rape” drugs that are used by unscrupulous predators to render new acquaintances defenseless and amnesic for several hours.

There remains much speculation about what happened on the night that Natalee Holloway disappeared, but there is little question that foul play was involved.  It is unfortunate that van der Sloot’s alleged latest victim was not aware of his past until moments before her murder.  Young men and women should remember that there are always predators in all parts of the world waiting to take advantage of young, naïve tourists looking for excitement and novelty away from home. 

 A few words of advice:

  • stay in groups
  • avoid leaving drinks unattended
  • do not leave a bar or party with a new acquaintance
  • seek medical attention if you do not feel normal
  • avoid secluded locations.

Have fun, but stay safe.

Photo by acordova.

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About The Author

Frank Gillingham, M.D. serves as Chief Medical Director for HTH Worldwide. Frank has led HTH Worldwide's international business development efforts in Europe and Canada and has been a guest speaker at international business conferences and has authored a series of articles on travel medicine, including pieces on travel information available on the Internet and the role of physicians working with travel insurers. Frank is a Board-Certified Internist and Emergency Medicine Specialist. He is also a private emergency physician in Southern California and a former emergency department director and member of the UCLA emergency department staff. Frank completed residency training at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, received his M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania .

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