Robyn Gardner missing: Suspect Gary Giordano refusing to cooperate; FBI assisting in investigating
Aruban prosecutors are ramping up their investigation into Gathersburg resident Gary Giordano, a suspect in the disappearance of Robyn Gardner.
Neighbors like Roger Easteb aren't sure what to think.
"It's obviously disturbing", he says. "Especially after the Natalee Holloway case".
Giordano is the lead suspect in the August 2nd disappearance of the 35-year-old from Frederick.
Aruban authorities say "Giordano ... is no longer cooperating. He is claiming his rights not to talk or incriminate himself."
"Apparently they met on the internet"-- that from Larry Boswell, riding his training bike by Giordano's house.
The couple met on line about a year ago, investigators say.
After spending a few days in Aruba together, Giordano says off-shore currents swept Gardner away when she was snorkling.
The internet makes a lot of things easier," Boswell says. "Makes it easier to get into trouble--all technology can be abused", he adds.
Easteb says he's found the island nation's waters are usually calm.
"We've been there several times, and we know it's not a place where there's danger", he recalls.
But Thursday night Aruban prosecutors revealed plans to ask the FBI for help in getting answers-- information possibly available in Gaithersburg.
Authorities asking federal agents to obtain-- "...Phone records, computer records, search of suspect's home in Maryland... And any other evidence and interviews needed in a criminal investigation".
Giordano, a fixture in the local singles scene, does have a troubling past.
At least two woman have filed court protection orders against the 50 year old, saying he was violent.
Meanwhile residents in Giordono's quiet neighborhood are hoping for answers.
"It would be sort of disturbing if it doesn't get resolved- if he is involved in it", Easteb says.
Many folks are expecting the FBI to show up late Thursday or early Friday.
Giordano remains in an Aruban jail cell, on suspicion of murder.
A court hearing Monday is to determine whether he can be freed.
Gardner’s brother questions Giordano’s story
Andrew Colson, Gardner's brother, last saw his sister in May. He said Aruban authorities asked them not to discuss the case in detail, but that they do not believe her companion's account of what happened. Giordano said she was unlikely to have been snorkeling in the first place.
"I think there's more to it," he said. "...She just wouldn't want to ruin her makeup or get her hair wet."
Colson said Giordano seemed too calm when his mother came to Aruba to help find her daughter.
"He didn't seem very sorrowful. He wasn't mournful or anything," Colson told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Odenton, Md. Asked if he thinks Giordano is dangerous, Colson said yes.
Talking to ABC7’s Stephen Tschida, Colson said his sister was an inspiration and role model to him.
“Robyn is a very loving, caring, kind person,” Colson said. “She had such a nice radiant smile that it brought joy to everyone and such a positive energy.”
“She told me to live every day like it's your last, and it's ever since I heard it from her I try to do the same and she tries to do the same as well,” he said.
Giordano claims snorkeling accident
Giordano was in jail on the Caribbean island Wednesday. He has said Gardner disappeared while they were snorkeling near the southern tip of the island, the Aruban prosecutor's office said.
Stein said that authorities had called off the active search for Gardner because they had no more leads to pursue, but that they planned to question Giordano again.
"The suspect is standing by his story that they went snorkeling and that Robyn did not resurface," Stein said.
Earlier, the prosecutor's office said it decided to detain Giordano on Friday, as he tried to leave Aruba, because of questions about information he gave police about the disappearance. Prosecutors have not said what prompted their suspicions.
Giordano's Aruban lawyer, Michael Lopez, said his client was being unjustly held.
In a written statement to the Associated Press, Lopez said Giordano denies any involvement in Gardner’s disappearance and “does not consider himself a suspect.”
The two Americans had been in Aruba a couple of days when they decided to go snorkeling on Aug. 2 near an area known as Baby Beach, Lopez said. He said the pair eventually realized they were being pulled out to sea by the current and Giordano tapped on Gardner's leg to signal that they should swim back.
When he got to shore, he noticed she wasn't with him and ran to get help after looking for her unsuccessfully in the water, the lawyer said.
“The current outside is very harsh it will take you away in minutes if you don't watch out and I think that is what happened,” Lopez said.
Lopez said that in the following days, Giordano assisted with the search and answered questions from police. Video of the search shows Giordano accompanying police as they searched the water around where he said Gardner disappeared.
He said his client waited until the woman's mother arrived before deciding to return to the U.S. Giordano says he was given permission to leave by an official at the U.S. consulate on the nearby island of Curacao, the lawyer said.
The U.S. vice consul, Winnie Hofstetter, declined to comment on the case.
Lopez said that after being detained, Giordano initially declined to cooperate further with prosecutors and police because he felt he was being wrongly detained.
Giordano is from Gaithersburg, Maryland. His lawyer said he runs an employment agency.
Friends, family worry about Gardner
Gardner, a 5-foot-5-inch blonde with prominent tattoos on her arm, rib cage and right bicep, had worked in the past as a patient care coordinator at a dental office in Bethesda, Md., said Richard A. Forester, who said he was her boyfriend.
Her best friend Christina Jones said she is still holding out hope that Gardner will be found. She said Giordano had invited Gardner on a previous vacation, but she declined.
"She's just a great,” said Jones. “She's a wonderful female and I hope I can do some justice to bring her home or find out really what happened, the truth."
Jones said the women were roommates at their Frederick apartment, but that Gardner had been spending most of her time at her boyfriend's apartment.
Jones says Gardner spent Saturday night at her house before jetting off the next day to Aruba with Giordano. Jones says Gardner and Giordano knew each other for about a year. She describes the 50-year-old man Gardner met online as eccentric.
“You kind of get a vibe from someone if they have someone good or not great in their life and I just didn't get that vibe,” she said.
Giordano offered to take Gardner on a cruise a couple of months ago, her friend said. When she declined, Giordano wasn't happy. "How he reacted about the cruise is the reason why I was worried about why she was going to be going to Aruba," Jones said.
Boyfriend suspects romantic relationship with travel companion
Gardner’s boyfriend, Forester, said she lived with him in Rockville and that she and Giordano were platonic friends. The pair were scheduled to spend about five days in Aruba, Forester said.
"I'm starting to believe that's not true," Forester said in a phone interview. "I'm starting to believe there was some romantic thing."
Forester said he and Gardner had been in contact through Facebook until just before she disappeared. After she vanished, her Google Chat indicators showed she was active on Gmail, then on but not active, and finally off, he said. It seemed to indicate that she or someone else had been on her Gmail account, he said.
"I'm terrified as to what may have happened to her," he said. "I'm sad and scared that I might not see her again. I love her very much and all I am concerned about is that she gets home safely."
Aruba has experience dealing with missing person cases following the still unsolved disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway during a high school class trip to the island in 2005. Her remains were never found and the main suspect, Joran van der Sloot, is in jail in Peru on charges of killing a 21-year-old woman last May.
Jones says she's staying hopeful her friend is just missing. “I mean we have hope, that's all we've got right now,” she said.