Robyn L. Colson Gardner, from Frederick, MD, who was vacationing on the Caribbean island of Aruba with Gary Vincent Giordano, a 50-years-old man she met on the Internet dating site Match.com and had been seeing for about a year, went missing on Friday, August 2, 2011.
Mr. Giordano reported to local police that he had last seen the 35-year-old woman snorkeling off Baby Beach, after the couple swam out to water that was too deep to stand, and he allegedly returned to the beach to find she had vanished, according to reports published on Thursday, August 11, 2011 by the Daily News, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Radar Online, CNN, ABC News, CBS News Crimesider, and various other media sources.
Ms. Gardner, who formerly worked as a dental assistant, is 5’5″ tall, weighs 120 pounds, and has blond hair, brown eyes, and numerous tattoos, as seen in the attached extended slide show and video clip.
The couple were staying at the Marriott Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad, not far from the Holiday Inn Aruba Beach Resort & Casino where another American woman, 18-year-old Natalee Ann Holloway, who had just graduated from Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Alabama, went missing on May 30, 2005, more than 6 years ago. Her body has never been found.
Aruba, a constituent country of the Netherlands, is an island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, just north of the coast of Venezuela.
Gary Giordano is being held by Aruba police since Friday, August 5, and was apprehended as he headed to Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) to board a flight back to the United States, returning to his home in Gaithersburg, MD.
Police are holding him on suspicion of murder, for playing some role in the woman’s disappearance and possibly drowning her, although he has not been formally charged with a crime.
According to Ann Angela, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office, under Aruban law, a suspect must appear before a judge within two days of his being detained. On Sunday, August 7, a judge decided authorities may hold Mr. Giordano for another eight days.
As Ms. Angela stated to a CNN reporter, “He’ll be detained up until next weekend, and then the judge will see him again and the judge will decide again if he will remain in detention or go home.”
That would mean that Mr. Giordano, who has a troubling past of alleged violent incidents with women, including a restraining order by a former girlfriend who accused him of stalking, video taping, choking and assaulting her, and claims of anger management issues, may be free to leave the former Dutch island possession, as soon as Monday, August 15, 2011.
A family law attorney, Gail Landau, represented one woman who swore out a complaint against Giordano in 2010. According to an application for a search warrant, Giordano was arrested April 28, 2010 after that person accused him of strangling her during sex, and video recording that incident.
According to the application for a restraining order, the victim was allegedly “struck several times in the head, face buttocks and legs.” She was also “digitally choked and subjected to manual strangulation during the event.”
In a separate incident, another alleged victim claimed Giordano secretly videotaped her and “threatened to publish and distribute the recordings.”
During their investigation, a search warrant ordered police to seize any other tapes in his Maryland home that might depict other victims. His residence was described as having a security camera on the roof and a sign warning visitors they would be video and audio recorded at all times. However, prosecutors dropped both cases when victims declined to go forward with their complaints.
According to ABC News, Giordano was divorced from his wife in 2008 over charges of domestic abuse, and at least one other woman sought a restraining order against him. Court records show that he also has several arrests for theft.
However, Mr. Giordano’s attorney in Aruba, Michael Lopez, claims that his client is innocent and is cooperating with the police.
The Aruban authorities have also made a formal request for assistance from the FBI, asking for their help investigating the case in the U.S., according to Taco Stein, another spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office, such as getting information from third parties, including cell phone companies.
Ms. Gardner’s Maryland roommate, Christina Jones, has reported that she received a text message from her just before Robyn went missing, saying that her vacation “sucks”. Jones also said that Mr. Giordano sent a very jealous and aggressive message to Gardner, after she had turned down a previous invitation to go on a cruise with him. Gardner instead chose to go with her to New York for the weekend.
Another of Robyn’s friends, Richard Forester, a 40-years-old executive recruiter or “headhunter” from Washington, D.C., who has been dating her for 2-1/2 years is highly suspicious of Giordano, and suspects foul play.
As he puts it in an interview with Radar Online, “My gut is telling me that he is involved with this, very much so. If he is found guilty, then I want the worst possible thing to happen to him. I am not judge, jury and executioner. But, if he is found guilty then I hope he gets what he deserves. I do believe in the death penalty.”
Aruba’s judicial system is based upon Dutch law. It does not have capital punishment, trials are before a judge, rather than trial by a jury, and plea bargaining for a lesser offense is not allowed. Death sentence were abolished since the late 19th Century.
However, many persons do not have confidence in the island’s legal system, and point to the arrest and later release of Joran van der Sloot in the Natalee Holloway case.
On May 30, 2010, the fifth anniversary of Holloway’s disappearance, Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramírez, 21, died at the Hotel TAC, in the Miraflores District of Lima, Peru, allegedly beaten and strangled in room 309 by Joran van der Sloot, who confessed to the crime, but later retracted his admission of guilt, and is currently awaiting trial for first-degree murder and robbery, after the prosecutor determined that he acted with “ferocity and great cruelty”.
Under Peruvian law, Van der Sloot is not eligible to be released on bail, and will be tried by a panel of three judges rather than a jury. A simple majority of the three is required for conviction.
Public outcry in Peru has been fueled by the local media, which labeled Van der Sloot a “monster”, “serial killer”, and “psychopath”. Many also claim that if justice had prevailed in Aruba in the Holloway case, Ms. Ramírez would still be alive.
Whether or not there will be a different outcome in the investigation and prosecution of Robyn Gardner’s mysterious disappearance, remains to be seen.
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