A source is confirming to the Associated Press that a Maryland businessman detained in Aruba had a $1.5 million insurance policy on his missing traveling companion and that he sought to collect on it shortly after she disappeared.
The source told the AP that Gary V. Giordano purchased the accidental policy shortly before traveling to the Dutch Caribbean island with 35-year-old Robyn Gardner of Frederick, Md. The policy only covered the trip to Aruba.
NBC News reported Giordano admitted there's a possibility that he added on, raising the premium and the payoff on the accidental death portion of the policy.
The source said Giordano tried to begin redeeming the policy just two days after telling police in Aruba that Gardner vanished while they were snorkeling.
Aruban authorities asked U.S. officials to look into the insurance policy and are studying the findings, News4’s Jane Watrel reported.
“If we come to the conclusion that part of what we are looking at, if this something other than normal travel insurance, then it may have bearing on the case,” Solicitor General Taco Stein said.
Meanwhile, NBC News is reporting that a digital camera belonging to Giordano that was seized by Aruban authorities allegedly contains shocking images of Gardner.
The camera contains “graphic and disturbing images” that are “beyond pornographic,’’ sources told NBC News. The camera, along with Giordano’s cell phone and laptop, have been sent to the nearby island of Curacao for inspection by authorities.
Stein confirmed to TODAY’s Matt Lauer on Thursday that a camera has been confiscated, but would not comment on the specific nature of the photos on it. However, from what he understands, Gardner does not appear to be in danger in the photos.
“What I’ve heard about it is that there is no indication that there is talk of duress in the pictures,’’ Stein said.
Giordano, a 50-year-old businessman from Gaithersburg, Md., traveled to Aruba with Gardner on July 31 and reported her missing two days later, saying she disappeared while the two were snorkeling. He assisted the search but was detained at the airport as he tried to leave the country because of questions about his account of what happened.
A judge ruled Monday that there is enough evidence to hold him for at least 16 more days on suspicion of involvement in Gardner's presumed death. On Tuesday, Stein said manslaughter charges are being considered.
“It must stand to reason by now, because we haven’t heard of her anymore, that she’s dead,” Stein told News4’s Jackie Bensen.
Aruban authorities were preparing a massive search of the island Thursday for the missing woman's body or evidence in the case.
The search is expected to start later this week and would be centered around the southern part of the Dutch Caribbean island near where Gardner was reported missing. Police and firefighters searched an abandoned phosphate mine in the area but did not find any trace of her.
From the FBI, only its Barbados-based legal attaché has gone to Aruba, officials said. Otherwise, the FBI has only assisted by searching Giordano's Gaithersburg home and conducting interviews in the U.S. The FBI can only provide support that is requested by Aruban authorities.
Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for more information.