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Entries in Aruba (16)

Tuesday
Jun192012

Gary Giordano Sues for Robyn Gardner's Travel Insurance

Gary Giordano speaking on "Good Morning America" in December 2011. ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Gary Giordano, who was a suspect in his travel companion Robyn Gardner's disappearance in August, has sued to collect on an insurance policy he took out on the woman.

Giordano, 51, filed the lawsuit last week against American Express for $3.5 million for failing to pay him the death benefit he says he deserves after Gardner, 35, presumably died after her Aug. 2 disappearance.  Gardner's body has not been found.

Giordano says the accidental death policy was part of his regular travel insurance that not only gave him coverage, but covered his traveling partners as well.  Gardner's policy is worth $1.5 million.

"When somebody takes out a policy and there is no body, they are required to wait 365 days before making a claim," American Express told ABC News.

That means Giordano won't be eligible to collect until August, a year from the date Gardner vanished.

Giordano tried to collect on the insurance policy two days after he notified authorities about Gardner's disappearance.  He explained his rationale on ABC's Good Morning America in December, one day after being released from jail in Aruba.

"My lawyer at the time, Michael Lopez, said you need to call insurance immediately," Giordano said.

An American Express employee who spoke to Giordano told police: "[Giordano] sounded excited, like he was about to win something."

Giordano said in December, "I've purchased it [travel insurance] many times before. ... I have children.  And if ... I go traveling and I disappear, I want them to be covered, OK?  I was selecting it for me, than she got the same thing."

Richard Forester, Gardner's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, says the new lawsuit only makes him more suspicious of Giordano.

"He's exploiting Robyn's disappearance, and trying to make a small fortune off of it," Forester said.  "I didn't think it was possible to be more suspicious of Giordano, but this absolutely does make me more suspicious of him."

Giordano spent four months in an Aruban jail last year as police tried to build a case against him in the disappearance of the Frederick, Md., woman.

Giordano says that he and Gardner were snorkeling on Aug. 2 off the coast of Aruba when she went missing.

"At some point, I became distressed and found out that I had a problem coming back to shore.  Robyn was, I thought, behind me, and she wasn't.  I turned, did not see her, and I went for help," Giordano said in December.

Giordano said he last saw Gardner at around 4:15 p.m. on Aug. 2, but did not tell anyone she was missing until 6 p.m., an hour and 45 minutes later.

He later speculated to ABC News that she might have been a victim of a human trafficking crime.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov292011

Aruba Suspect Gary Giordano to Leave Island Before Appeal Is Heard

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- Gary Giordano, the lone suspect in the disappearance of his travel companion Robyn Gardner, is expected to be released from an Aruban jail Tuesday evening and bolt from the island before an appeals court can meet to consider keeping him incarcerated.

Giordano, 50, could be back home in Gaithersburg, Md., Wednesday morning.

The island's prosecutors have appealed his release, but Aruba's three judge appeals panel's weekly meeting isn't set to begin until 11 a.m. Wednesday. Taco Stein, Aruba's solicitor general, is scrambling to convince the appeals panel to convene sooner than Wednesday morning.

Giordano is the only suspect in Gardner's disappearance in Aruba during their week-long trip in August.

Giordano's release after 116 days in jail comes after an Aruban judge threw out the prosecutors' request to keep him detained without charge for an additional 30 days. Aruban prosecutors do not have a body, a murder weapon, and have not locked down a definitive motive for Giordano to kill Gardner, but have argued they have enough circumstantial evidence to keep him in an Aruban jail.

Giordano's lawyer, Jose Baez, told ABC News that his client would be willing to comply with any extradition order if needed at a later date.

Aruban authorities told ABC News that they would seriously consider extraditing Giordano if they discover any hard evidence against him.

If Giordano leaves the island, he will leave behind his laptop and Blackberry. Investigators tell ABC News that they are just beginning to pore through the computer, as well as Gardner's iPad -- both of which contain documents that shed light on the relationship the two had -- which Giordano has previously said was almost entirely physical.

Baez, who gained fame this summer when he spearheaded Casey Anthony's acquittal on charges she murdered her 3-year-old daughter Caylee, called the conditions that led to Giordano spending over 116 days in an Aruban jail disastrous.

For those four months investigators grilled Giordano on what they called his suspicious response to Gardner's disappearance. He has maintained that she was pulled out to sea while they were snorkeling off the Caribbean island after a day of drinking.

According to Stein the investigation will continue whether Giordano is held in Aruba or not.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

Natalee Holloway's Mom: Daughter Not Dead

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- The mother of Natalee Holloway, an Alabama teen who disappeared in Aruba six years ago, will fight a petition by the girl's father to declare Natalee legally dead.

Beth Holloway will go to court Friday to challenge her ex-husband Dave Holloway's petition for presumption of death, filed in probate court in Birmingham, Ala., in June. Natalee Holloway vanished on May 30, 2005, more than six years ago, at age 17.

Dave Holloway claimed in the court papers that because Natalee has not been seen or heard from, and there is no reason to believe she is alive any longer, the time has come to declare her legally dead.

Beth Holloway will oppose that petition in court, according to a statement by her attorney, in which he called Dave Holloway's actions "inexplicable."

"Beth gave birth to and raised Natalee, and will always hope and pray for Natalee's safe return," said her attorney, John Q. Kelly, in a statement. "If Dave seeks closure on such a personal and sensitive matter, it should be respected, but not imposed upon Beth in such an adversarial and public manner."

The two sides are due in court Friday.

Beth Holloway referred questions to her attorney, who did not return calls.

Dave Holloway could not be reached for comment.

Beth Holloway has been relentless in her efforts to find out what happened to her daughter, even slipping into a Peruvian prison to confront Joran van der Sloot, the Aruban man suspected of killing Natalee.

At one point, she agreed to a sting, seemingly complying with van der Sloot's demand for cash in exchange for information about the location of her daughter's body. The transaction was monitored by Aruba authorities, but van der Sloot left the island before the FBI filed extortion charges.

Before van der Sloot could be arrested on extortion, he was arrested in Peru and charged with killing a woman, Stephany Flores Ramirez, on May 30, 2010, the fifth anniversary of Natalee's disappearance. He has been in a Peruvian prison since.

Natalee Holloway was on the last day of a graduation trip to Aruba with her senior class at Mountain Brook High School in Alabama when she did not return to her hotel.

She was last seen in a car with several people, including van der Sloot.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug232011

Exclusive Photo: Last Known Picture of Robyn Gardner In Aruba

ABC News(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- Missing Maryland woman Robyn Gardner was heavily intoxicated when she was last seen alive in an Aruban restaurant, less than two hours before her companion reported her missing after an alleged evening snorkeling trip.

The man with Gardner at the restaurant, Gary Giordano, is being held in an Aruban jail and is the lone suspect in Gardner's disappearance, although he has not been charged with a crime. Aruban police have said they believe Gardner is dead.

Eyewitnesses said Gardner seemed woozy at the restaurant and barely ate her salad.

In addition, a restaurant worker told ABC News he thought it was odd to hear that the couple went snorkeling because Gardner "seemed so perfectly put together," referring to her clothing, hair and make-up.

ABC News has obtained the last known pictures of Gardner, 35, to be taken before her disappearance at the Rum Reef Bar & Grill in the Baby Beach area of the island on the Aug. 2 evening that she vanished.

Gardner's cousin, Kelly Reed, said the family recognized the dress Gardner was wearing in the photo. And Gardner's live-in boyfriend in Maryland, Richard Forester, told ABC News that it was Gardner in her favorite dress, "with 100 percent certainty."

Those who saw the couple at the restaurant tell ABC News they were clearly in a romantic relationship, with Gardner reportedly telling the server, at one point, she was waiting for her "husband" to order.

The server at the restaurant said Giordano "inexplicably" jumped up after the couple sat down and introduced himself, saying, "My name is Gary and this is Robyn and we're from Maryland." The server found Giordano's behavior odd and reported it to authorities.

The woman’s family issued a statement Tuesday asking people to not lose hope in finding Gardner.

"After three weeks we ask everyone to please keep praying for Robyn. And we thank all who are helping to find out what happened to Robyn and ask anyone with information to please, please contact authorities," the statement said.

The statement came out as Aruban authorities suspended the search for Gardner. A massive search had been resumed Monday with more than 60 officials, including FBI agents, Aruba riot cops and volunteers combing the rocky and treacherous area along Aruba's coastline area away from the beach where Gardner went missing, but found nothing.

The latest witness account and the photographs of Gardner and Giordano together emerged just one day after a witness came forward to dispute Giordano's account of what happened the day Gardner disappeared.

Three days after the search for Gardner began, Giordano got within feet of leaving the country before he was stopped at Aruba's airport, where he told U.S. Customs he had to change flights because of weather, and told officials that his travel companion was "taking another flight." When arrested, authorities say Giordano was drenched in sweat.

Federal agents have searched Giordano's Gaithersburg, Md. home, seizing cell phones and laptops. The home was known to have been equipped with surveillance cameras and signs warning visitors that video and audio of their visits would be recorded, according to neighbors.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug212011

New Witness Disputes Gary Giordano's Claims in Aruba Case

Courtesy of Richard Forester(GAITHERSBURG, Md.) -- As Aruba authorities question Gary Giordano in the disappearance of his traveling companion American Robyn Gardner, a new witness has disputed his account of what happened the day Gardner disappeared.

Giordano's account is based on his claim that he and Gardner had gone snorkeling the day she disappeared, but the witness disputes those claims.

"If this witness ends up being accurate and correct as to locations of both Mr. Giordano and Ms. Gardner, it's yet another piece of evidence that's inconsistent with his story," said ABC News consultant Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent.

This is the latest of many disturbing details that have emerged in the case. Last week, investigators were looking into a $1.5 million American Express accidental life insurance policy taken out on Gardner, which named Giordano as the beneficiary.

"We're investigating that material, seeing the relevance to the investigation," Aruba Solicitor General Taco Stein said.

ABC News has confirmed reports that Giordano tried to collect on this life insurance just two days after the Maryland woman seemingly vanished have been confirmed.

The search for Gardner will resume Monday in Aruba. Her body would not have to be found in order for someone to be charged with her murder.

Gardner, 35, has been missing for two weeks, since reportedly snorkeling with Giordano, 50, off of an isolated beach on Aug. 2. The two traveled together from Maryland to Aruba on July 31. She is now presumed to be dead by Aruba police.

Police are asking members of the public that may have information about Gardner's disappearance to call 011-297-582-0695 and leave their tip and contact information. The Natalee Holloway Resource Center, which is also helping with the case, has set up an American tip line at 407-237-2295.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug172011

Exclusive: Aruba Suspect Took Out $1.5 Million Insurance Policy

Courtesy of Richard Forester(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- Authorities in Aruba are investigating an insurance policy taken out by Gary Giordano before his trip to Aruba as a possible motive in the disappearance of missing Maryland woman Robyn Gardner.

The investigation into the $1.5 million accidental death policy on Gardner -- which names Giordano as a beneficiary -- has been confirmed exclusively with ABC News by a police source in Aruba, as has the fact that he purchased the pricier one-year policy over the cheaper, more commonly purchased five-year policy.

Gardner, 35, has been missing for two weeks, since reportedly snorkeling with Giordano off of an isolated beach on Aug. 2.  The two traveled together from Maryland to Aruba on July 31.  She is now presumed to be dead by Aruba police.

The FBI is also investigating the American Express accidental death policy and has agents in Aruba to question Giordano -- a man whom court documents show is trailed by a history of domestic violence.

Giordano, 50, was ordered this week to remain in an Aruban jail for another 16 days while police investigate what they say are "serious inconsistencies" in his story.  Investigators have found apparent gaps in time between when witnesses saw the pair on the beach and the timeline Giordano gave when he reported Gardner missing.

Though he has not been charged with a crime, Giordano remains the only suspect in the case.

Surveillance video from local businesses place Giordano and Gardner at the Rum Reef Bar & Grill in the Baby Beach area of the island before Gardner went missing, a police source in Aruba told ABC News.  Restaurant staff said that Gardner seemed woozy while the two ate; Giordano later told police they'd been drinking vodka at the Marriott before dining, and that she'd taken sleeping pills earlier in the day, the police source said.

Video also shows Giordano in his rental car parked in the back of the bar and restaurant.  The Toyota Rav-4 had tinted windows, so no one else in the vehicle can be identified.  Giordano parked the car in the back parking lot twice; he told police that he wanted to park in the shade, the police source told ABC News.

The car was cleaned once Giordano returned the car to the Star rental at Aruba's airport, so police were unable to investigate the vehicle, according to police in Aruba.  The rental agents said that they didn't notice anything unusual when it was cleaned.

Investigators have also said that they had trouble identifying Giordano in surveillance video because he frequently changed his toupees.

At approximately 6:02 p.m., after Gardner went missing, the police source said that Giordano is also seen in surveillance video, tapping on closed shutters of the bar -- seemingly making his presence known.  At approximately 6:20 p.m. he headed to the back kitchen of the bar and told someone to call police.

Authorities said that that they found blood on a rock behind the dive shop at the Rum Reef Bar & Grill, which is the last place the two were seen together.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug162011

Missing in Aruba: Last Person to See Robyn Gardner Helping Cops

Courtesy of Richard Forester(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- The last person to see Robyn Gardner and Gary Giordano together was the owner of a dive shop on Aruba who noticed their car far out on a rocky point of the island which he thought was an unlikely place to be snorkeling.

Gardner, 35, has been missing since and is presumed by Aruba police to be dead.

Giordano, 50, was ordered this week to remain in an Aruban jail for another 16 days while police investigate what they say are apparent gaps in time between when witnesses saw the pair on the beach and the timeline Giordano gave when he reported Gardner missing.

The owner of the dive shop at the Rum Reef Bar & Grill, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he saw the pair that afternoon that Gardner vanished. He said he noticed the woman's shoulder tattoos --- a leopard print pattern -- but saw no unusual behavior.

He later saw Giordano's rental car at the tip of a rocky path leading out to the ocean, and said he thought at the time how unusual it was to see people snorkeling at that spot.

Stein has said that there were apparent gaps in time between when witnesses saw the pair on the beach and the timeline Giordano gave when he reported Gardner missing.

Prior to a court hearing on Monday, Stein said prosecutors would focus on Giordano's troubling history with women, including two restraining orders taken out against him and allegations of domestic violence.

Giordano emerged from a judicial hearing Monday with a shirt draped over his head as he headed to jail for at least another 16 days.

Gardner's family applauded the judge's ruling.

"We are confident in the decision made by the Aruban authorities to keep Gary Giordano in custody," the family said in a statement released through a spokesman.

"We are still hoping to find out what has happened to our daughter, as we have not given up hope that she may still be alive...We just want to find our daughter, and we continue to ask the public for any tips they may have in helping our Robyn come home," the statement said.

Aruba police will now have more than two weeks to mount a case against Giordano, based on evidence collected from witnesses, surveillance video, personal cellphones and laptops, and other information collected by police and the FBI, which is helping with the investigation.

Federal agents searched Giordano's Maryland home over the weekend, seizing cellphones and laptops. The home was known to have been equipped with surveillance cameras and signs warning visitors that video and audio of their visits would be recorded, according to neighbors.

In recent days, police searched an abandoned phosphate mine not far from where Giordano says Gardner was swept out to sea, but found only a pink shirt and black sandals that don't belong to the missing woman.

Still, investigators have not said they have a motive, a weapon, or a body to help prove their case.

Police asking members of the public that may have information about Gardner's disappearance to call 011-297-582-0695 and leave their tip and contact information. The Natalee Holloway Resource Center, which is also helping with the case, has set up an American tip line at 407-237-2295.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Aruba Orders Suspect Gary Giordano Held in Robyn Gardner Case

Handout Photo(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- An Aruba judge ordered Gary Giordano, the sole suspect in the disappearance of Maryland woman Robyn Gardner, to remain in Aruba for 16 more days.

Giordano is being held in the possible drowning of 35-year-old Gardner, who is now presumed dead. Giordano told police that he and Gardner were snorkeling together when Gardner was swept out to sea, but police arrested him following inconsistencies in his story, according to Aruba authorities.

Giordano left the hearing with a shirt over his head as he was put into a police van and driven back to prison.

Gardner's family applauded the judge's ruling.

"We are confident in the decision made by the Aruban authorities to keep Gary Giordano in custody," the family said in a statement released through a spokesman.

"We are still hoping to find out what has happened to our daughter, as we have not given up hope that she may still be alive. ...We just want to find our daughter, and we continue to ask the public for any tips they may have in helping our Robyn come home," the statement said.

In a hearing that lasted three hours, prosecutors convinced a judge that Giordano's history of domestic violence allegations and the inconsistencies in the story he told police about what happened to Gardner were suspicious enough to warrant further detention in the country.

Giordano's attorney, Michael Lopez, had said prior to the hearing that he hoped a lack of evidence against his client would convince the judge let Giordano be released from jail.

Now, Aruba police will have more than two weeks to mount a case against Giordano, based on evidence collected from witnesses, surveillance video, personal cell phones and laptops, and other information collected by police and the FBI, who are helping with the investigation.

Police are asking members of the public that may have information about Gardner's disappearance to call 011-297-582-0695 and leave their tip and contact information.  The Natalee Holloway Resource Center, which is also helping with the case, has set up an American tip line at 407-237-2295.

Prosecutors will again have to go before a judge at the end of the 16 days to seek further detention or file formal charges.

If the judge orders Giordano detained again, prosecutors will have another eight days to mount evidence against him, but the burden of proof to keep him in the country becomes significantly more difficult after that, police said.

The judge will have to decide next Tuesday whether to prolong Giordano's incarceration and at that point could order him held for another eight days. Aruba law would allow Giordano to be held a maximum of 68 days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug152011

Aruba Suspect in Court in Robyn Gardner Disappearance

Handout Photo(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- The sole suspect in the disappearance of Robyn Gardner could be set free Monday if Aruban authorities cannot convince a judge that his troubling past with women is enough evidence to keep him there as a suspect.

Gary Giordano, 50, of Maryland, reported Gardner, 35, of Maryland, missing more than 10 days ago, claiming she was swept out to sea while they were snorkeling together. Police said they arrested Giordano due to inconsistencies in his statements.

Prosecutors Monday will focus on a history of domestic violence allegations and restraining orders to keep Giordano in Aruba for another eight days as they build their case against him. Gardner is now presumed dead, they said.

Two women were granted restraining orders against Giordano, and court documents obtained by ABC News show allegations of a violent assault by an ex-girlfriend.

In recent days, police searched an abandoned phosphate mine not far from where Giordano says Gardner was swept out to sea, but found only a pink shirt and black sandals that don't belong to the missing woman.

Still, investigators have not said they have a motive, a weapon, or a body to help prove their case.

Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee, has offered help to the efforts to find Gardner through the foundation she started, the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, in Washington, D.C. The foundation has been working with Robert Forester, Gardner's live-in boyfriend in Maryland, along with the Gardner family to get the word out about the appearance.

The center has set up a phone tip line for the public to alert authorities to any knowledge they may have connected to Gardner's disappearance: 407-237-2295.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug122011

Robyn Gardner Investigators Search for Evidence against Giordano

FBI(ORANJESTAD, Aruba) -- Aruba police and the FBI are scrambling to gather evidence in the disappearance of Maryland woman Robyn Gardner before Monday, when Gary Giordano, her traveling partner and the only suspect in the case, will go before a judge who may release him, according to Aruba Solicitor General Taco Stein.

Giordano's U.S. house will be searched Friday by the FBI, and Aruba authorities say they are combing through the data from electronic devices Gardner and Giordano had while on vacation. Stein said they are viewing surveillance video and asking any witnesses to come forward to obtain as much evidence as possible before Monday afternoon, when Giordano will go to court. If there is sufficient evidence, a judge can then order Giordano to remain in the country as a suspect for another eight days under Aruba law, Stein said.

According to a U.S. Customs agent, Giordano came within minutes of leaving Aruba Aug. 5 before he was arrested, having made it through Customs and onto what is considered US soil as he was about to board a U.S.-bound plane. Aruba police obtained permission from U.S. authorities to detain Giordano, the agent said.

Giordano, 50, of Maryland, is being held as a suspect in the case because of "serious inconsistencies" in his story about her disappearance, according to Stein. Giordano told police the two were snorkeling off Baby Beach and Gardner never returned to shore, but Stein said there is a gap in time from when witnesses spotted the pair on the beach and Giordano reported Gardner, 35, missing.

"When you don't have a body and you suspect that there's foul play, it's always a problem," Stein said.

He added that Giordano has stopped cooperating with authorities.

Giordano's attorney in Aruba, Michael Lopez, was instructed by his client not to speak with the media, according to Lopez's office assistant. He had previously said there is no evidence and no motive to show that his client committed murder.

At least four women have said that Giordano was alarmingly aggressive toward them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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