Authorities in Aruba say they believe the Maryland woman who disappeared there Aug. 2 is dead, and they're seeking to extend a detention order for her travel companion as they seek witnesses who could help them build a case against him, a prosecutor said today.
The Office of the Public Prosecutor of Aruba also announced it will request legal assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice in the investigation.( Fri Aug 12 16:32:53 PDT 2011 $__output )
The FBI is already working closely with Aruban authorities on the disappearance of Robyn Gardner, 35. Agents went to Gary Giordano's Gaithersburg, Md., home, which doubles as his business address Friday night to search it. The FBI has contacted two women who've dated Giordano in the past. Protective orders show that past girlfriends have described Giordano as abusive and violent.
"As long as we don't have a body, you can question whether or not she is dead," Solicitor General Taco Stein told the Associated Press in a phone interview. "On the other hand, with all the publicity on the case, if she were still alive she would have made herself known."( Fri Aug 12 07:33:54 PDT 2011 $__output )
Giordano told investigators that he and Gardner went snorkeling Aug. 2, but that once he reached shore, he realized Gardner was no longer with him.
Giordano, 50, has been in police custody since Aug. 5, but Aruban prosecutors say that he is no longer cooperating and has refused to answer any more questions.
Under Aruban law, which is based on the Dutch legal system, a judge can extend the next detention order for a maximum of eight days at a hearing scheduled for Monday. After that period, prosecutors could ask a judge to order Giordano held for as long as 60 days while they prepare a case, but that would require more substantial evidence. Charges would be filed at the end of the 60 days if prosecutors take the case to court.
Richard Forester, Gardner's boyfriend, told the FBI he found it unlikely that Gardner would have gone snorkeling. Of her vacation with another man, he said, "It's certainly an issue that is on my mind, but it is far from being anywhere important right now."
The office has released a picture of Giordano to ask the public for information about him and the places he and Gardner might have visited. Investigators already have few witnesses who saw the two together in Aruba, said Stein. No witnesses saw them go into the water the day Gardner allegedly drowned.
"We have very little information about what they did on the island," Stein said. "The information we have doesn't give us insight into their relationship."
Anyone with information about the case should contact Aruban authorities at 011-297-597-5201.