Dutch teenager Joran van der Sloot confessed to his father that he dumped Natalee Holloway’s body in shark-infested waters after she accidentally hit her head and drowned in a drug-induced stupor on an Aruban beach.

This stunning new theory from inside the police investigation of the missing teen emerged as her grief-stricken relatives came to terms with the fact that Natalee was not going to be found alive — or possibly not found at all — because the man-eating sharks may have left nothing behind.

“Her family has come to believe that she’s not with us anymore. That’s just realistic,” said Natalee’s step-uncle Steve Parten, a Florida minister.

Natalee, from Birmingham, Ala., was last seen around 1 am on May 30 leaving Carlos ‘n Charlies, a local nightclub, with 17-year-old Joran and his buddies Satish Kalpoe, 18, and his brother Deepak, 21. It was the last night of Natalee’s high school graduation trip with her classmates.

For the first time, police are investigating information from several sources that a panic-stricken Joran confessed to his father Paulus that Natalee died accidentally and that he fed her body to the sharks.

Two of those sources are Jim Dooley, a South Carolina job recruiter for the health care industry, and his wife, Bella.

In an exclusive interview, the Dooleys said they contacted the FBI after learning of Joran’s confession to his dad during a shopping trip to a clothing store in Charlotte, N.C. The date was June 11, just a few days after Aruba police had arrested Joran and the Kalpoe brothers as “persons of interest” in the case.

Dooley said the clerk at the clothing store told him that she and her husband are very good friends with Joran’s dad, Paulus van der Sloot, and his wife, Anita. Her own son had attended school with Joran on the island and was a close pal.

The clerk told Dooley: “Joran told his father that he and Natalee had all been drinking and taking drugs at the nightclub. The father specifically mentioned they took Ecstasy. Joran told his father that when they left the club, they went to a beach on the island. Natalee was very ill and threw up several times.

“Then she fell and hit her head on something. Joran checked her and realized she was dead.

“Joran and others discussed an appropriate place to dump Natalee’s body, a specific place where someone would disappear forever… a spot on the island where the waters are shark-infested.”

Arubans know the shark-feeding spot very well and directed a National Enquirer reporter to its location on the rugged north coast of the island, where the ocean pounds the rocks and few people live.

The water there is deep and murky and sits beneath a high cliff, far away from the beautiful beaches and posh hotel casinos on the island’s southern side.

A meatpacking plant once occupied the site. Workers there would discard meat cuttings into the ocean. The sharks would quickly gather and go into a feeding frenzy. To this day, dead animals are dumped into the waters at the shark site for the sake of tourism.

The clerk continued: “Paulus van der Sloot is very worried. This was an accidental death but his son is likely to end up going to jail because it looks like he was covering up a murder.

“But Paulus admitted telling his son that if a body wasn’t found, there could be a chance he’d get out of jail.”

According to another source close to the case, Robert Werner, headmaster of the International School of Aruba, where Joran attended classes, also said that Paulus van der Sloot admitted to him his son confessed that Natalee died accidentally in a fall on a beach.

The source revealed: “Paulus told the headmaster that Joran and Natalee had been taking drugs and decided to go for a swim. As they played in and around the water, Natalee fell, hit her head on a rock and drowned. In a drug and alcohol-induced panic, Joran felt he had no other choice but to dispose of Natalee’s body in the sea.”

Paulus van der Sloot was arrested himself on June 23, a week after the Dooleys reported their conversation with the clerk to the FBI. He was later released but he could be rearrested, said Aruban authorities. He did admit talking to his son about Natalee’s disappearance, saying he advised him in general terms that without a body there may be no way to prove a crime was committed.

The Kalpoe brothers were also released. But they, too, could be rearrested, Aruban authorities said. At the time of going to press, Joran remained behind bars. His family maintains his innocence.

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