The FBI is playing a critical role in the investigation into a Frederick, Md., woman’s disappearance in Aruba, officials said.
Aruban authorities asked the bureau for stateside help in Robyn Gardner’s disappearance, an FBI spokesman said. The FBI has interviewed several people, including Richard Forester, Gardner’s boyfriend. He spent more than an hour with agents Thursday morning.
“I don't know the reasoning for the questioning,” he said. “I mean, it was just a lot of questions about her, about me, about our relationship -- things like that.”
Forester has known Gardner since March 2009 and said they have dated each other exclusively since the beginning of this year. He said the FBI is trying to piece together a picture of Gardner’s life.
On July 31, Forester thought Gardner was leaving to visit family in Florida. In fact, she had left for Aruba with Gary Giordano, a man she met on Match.com about a year ago.
“The first Facebook message I got from her was at 2:05 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, and it said, ‘This sucks,’” Forester said.
Aruban police detained Giordano as a murder suspect, according to his lawyer. Giordano maintains his innocence and doesn’t consider himself a suspect.
Giordano told police he and Gardner went snorkeling the evening of Aug. 2 but she never made it back to shore.
“Going snorkeling, I don’t see it,” Forester said.
Gardner would be too concerned about her hair and makeup at that time of day, Forester said. She’s more of a sit by the pool with a drink type, he said. He believes Giordano made the snorkeling story up.
As for her going on vacation with another man, Forester said, “It’s certainly an issue that is on my mind, but it is far from being anywhere important right now.”
Gardner’s mother, Andrea Colson, released a statement Thursday morning, saying in part, “We can only pray that she will soon be with us and bring back the joy into our lives. She means the world to us. We are hoping for the very best outcome with the help of the international community that we will reach a favorable outcome. We are confident and very grateful to the Aruba authorities and volunteers who are working above and beyond all our expectations.”
Giordano was detained Friday as he attempted to leave Aruba. His lawyer said he’d asked authorities if he needed to stay but didn’t get an answer.
Giordano’s story had too many inconsistencies for investigators to let him leave the island, Aruban police said, and if Gardner had drowned, her body would have washed up on shore by now.
Giordano has had legal trouble before. In 2003, Giordano was arrested for shoplifting armloads of electronics from discount stores and getting away in a silver Mercedes-Benz station wagon. There is also a trail of protective orders filed by women Giordano dated. They accuse him of stalking, death threats, and violently slapping and choking one woman. One wrote in her 2010 petition, "He told me the world would be better off without me and he could help."
"Giordano is alleged to have had a history of violence with past girlfriends,” former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt said. “The authorities have to look at that as well as look at any evidence that's going to suggest they left a hotel together or he left by himself."
A representative of Giordano told News4’s Jackie Bensen that every accusation against him in the past has been resolved in his favor.
Aruban authorities said Giordano is not cooperating, claiming his rights not to talk or incriminate himself, so police are releasing his picture to the public in hopes that someone who saw him in Aruba will have information to help the investigation. They said they expect the FBI to search Giordano’s Gaithersburg, Md., home Friday.
Aruban police have until next week to decide whether to charge Giordano in Gardner’s disappearance.
The Natalee Holloway Resource Center created a tip line. Anyone with information about the disappearance should call 407-237-2295.