Here's some Nancy Grace-nip you'll be hearing a lot more about in the coming weeks: Robyn Gardner is a 35-year-old Maryland woman who took off recently on a vacation to Aruba with a man she barely knew: Gary Giordano, 50, also from Maryland, whom she had met online. Gardner has been missing since last Tuesday, and Giordano — who it turns out has a criminal record and a history of domestic violence—is now in custody.
Gardner had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend of two-and-a-half years, Richard Forester, before leaving with Giordano, but had been in contact with him via text and email until the day of her disappearance. Giordano was arrested on Friday attempting to board a plane back to the U.S. His version of events, which he'd relayed last Tuesday, involved an evening snorkeling expedition from which Gardner never returned.
But a spokesperson for Aruba's prosecutor's office said that the coast guard searched the area for days, and found nothing, adding that the water at Baby Beach, where Giordano said they were snorkeling, was typically "calm and gentle." And Forester says she never would have gone on such an evening swim:
"I just don't think she was snorkeling...We went on vacations and I couldn't even get her to put her head under water in the pool. She was into makeup and hair, and knowing her she would have had a few cocktails already and would only be getting ready to go out that night."
Giordano was divorced from his ex-wife in 2008 "amid allegations of domestic violence," during which she obtained a restraining order, according to court records. At least one other woman sought a similar order of protection against him. He also had several arrests on his record for thefts under $500. Giordano "emphatically denies" any wrongdoing, according to a statement issued by his lawyer.
The FBI and Interpol are working on the case, according to Forester, and have Gardner's computer, iPad and BlackBerry under analysis. The Natalee Holloway Resource Center in Washington, D.C.—an action network founded by the mother of the 18-year-old who famously disappeared from the same destination (same hotel even) as Gardner back in 2005—has been on the case since Monday.