Her Murder Led to Serial Killer 1
Fugitive Kidnapper Kills Himself 2
Unlikely Manhunt Leads to Tragedy 3

Robyn Gardner Missing in Aruba; Boyfriend Claims She Was Swept Out to Sea

By Pete Kotz in missing persons, unsolved
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 9:36 am
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UPDATE: Witnesses say that when Gary Giordano reported Robyn Gardner missing, he had a large scratch on his throat, there was blood on the beach, and his shorts weren't wet, even though he claimed that they were snorkeling. See update after the jump...


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The man she was with claims Robyn was swept out to sea while snorkeling, but police don't seem to be buying that
35-year-old Robyn Gardner had been dating Richard Forester for more than two years. But they'd recently had a fight. Then Robyn decided to take off from her Bethesda, Maryland home for a vacation in Aruba. Richard thought she was going with a friend.

What he didn't know is that she'd instead decided to vacation with another man, 50-year-old Gary Giordano. And it just so happens that Giordano has an extensive criminal record, including pinches for domestic violence.

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Police say Gary Giordano's clothes were already dry when he reported Robyn missing
As Giordano tells it, he and Robyn went snorkeling in the sea near the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad, where they were staying. When he finally got back to shore, he says Robyn was no longer with him and that he couldn't find her.

There's some question as to how long it took for Giordano to call the cops. But when he did, he told police that Robyn had likely been swept out by the current.

Police launched an all-out search for Robyn after she was reported missing August 2. But during the midst of said search, while Giordano was supposed to be worried sick over his missing sweetheart, he instead tried to board a plane back to the U.S. for his home in Maryland.

Police arrested him at the airport to prevent him from leaving.

Richard says he suspects Giordano had some role in Robyn's disappearance. She's described as 5'5 and 120 pounds, with tattoos on her back, shoulder, elbow, ribs and bicep. (Special thanks to reader Scott for the tip.)

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Her boyfriend says Robyn wasn't the kind to even put her head under the water in a pool, much less go snorkeling
UPDATE: Gary Giordano explanations don't seem to be adding up.

Police in Aruba say Giordano was arrested at the airport because he'd promised Robyn's mother he'd stay and help with the search, then abruptly tried to leave. They also say his explanation for the disappearance doesn't seem to add up.

The pair had been snorkeling off an area known as Baby Beach. Giordano says he noticed that they were being pulled out to sea by the current, so he tapped on Robyn's leg to let her know they should head back to shore.

But when Giordano arrived on land, he noticed that Robyn was no longer with him.

Yet Robyn's roommate, Christina Jones, says police told her that Giordano's clothes were dry by the time he reported her missing. Loved ones usually don't take time to change when their girlfriends may be drowning.

Police also say the waters off Baby Beach were "calm and gentle" that day.

Some reports indicate that Giordano and Robyn met on an internet dating site, even though Robyn was already dating someone else. They'd been dating for a few weeks when Giordano bought tickets for the pair to vacation in Aruba.

Robyn had recently been laid off from the dental clinic where she worked, so she decided to spend a little time abroad. But that didn't please her boyfriend, Richard Forester. He says they argued about the trip before she left.

Giordano appears to have a history of violence against women. His wife accused him of abuse when they divorced in 2008, and a judge granted her a restraining order. There's also word that at least one other woman got a restraining order against him.

Forester says he initially believed that Robyn and Giordano were just friends. But that changed after she went missing. The pair were scheduled to spend five days in Aruba. Robyn sent Forester a message via Facebook saying she loved him and that they'd work things out when she returned.

But Forester doesn't believe Robyn would ever go snorkeling. He describes her as something of a girly girl who was unwilling to even put her head below the water in a pool, lest it ruin her hair.

On the day she went missing, she posted a simple Facebook message that now seems ominous. "This sucks," she wrote, without explanation.

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At the time she went missing, Robyn was also dating Richard Forester, who initially thought she was vacationing in Aruba with a friend or her family
UPDATE II: No one seems to believe Robyn would ever go snorkeling.

That seems to be the universal opinion of friends and family. Her brother Andrew Colson told the Daily Mail -- which is much better at covering American crime than American papers, by the way -- that "She just wouldn't want to ruin her makeup or get her hair wet."

That echoes a similar sentiment from her boyfriend, Richard Forester, who also believes that Robyn would never go swimming in the sea.

Colson says Aruban police are suspicious of Giordano's tale. The suspect's lawyer claims that when Giordano noticed Robyn hadn't returned to shore, he immediately ran for help. But the cops say his clothes were already dry when he informed the police of her disappearance. 

Colson further says that when mom arrived in Aruba to hep with the search, Giordano acted as if nothing was wrong. "He didn't seem very sorrowful. He wasn't mournful or anything."

Giordano's lawyer is trying to claim that his client wasn't trying to flee the country. He merely decided it was time to leave after Robyn's mother arrived, and that he'd gotten permission to go from the U.S. consulate. But if so, the consulate isn't talking.

The lawyer admits that Giordano for a time refused to help police. But that was not because he had anything to hide; he was merely pissed because he thought he'd been wrongly arrested at the airport.

Giordano reportedly runs an employment agency in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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Robyn told her boyfriend she was vacationing in Orlando with her parents, and that Giordano was her gay friend
UPDATE III: Someone was on Robyn's Gmail account after she disappeared.

Maybe he's naive. Maybe he was just in love and too trusting. But it seems Robyn duped her boyfriend Richard Forester about where she was going on vacation -- and then came to regret it.

Though there have been differing reports, Forester tells People Magazine that he thought Robyn was vacationing with her parents in Orlando. Then Robyn called, and the crackling on the line made it seem like an international call. The following day, she emailed to say her parents surprised her with a trip to Aruba.

On August 2, Robyn posted on a note on her Facebook page at 2 a.m. saying "This sucks." We can presume she wasn't having much fun in Aruba.

Forester tried to get in touch with her throughout the day. She finally got back to him through Facebook, telling him "Don't worry. I care about you I love you we'll talk and sort things out when I got back." That was at 3 p.m.

By 6 p.m., Giordano had reported her missing.

Forester never met Giordano, but he thought he was his girlfriend's "gay friend." He also says someone -- he believes it was Giordano -- was using Robyn's Gmail account after she was reported missing.

"The way you know they're on their Gmail chat account is there's a green light," he told People. "If you're off it a little long and not doing anything on it, it turns idle and turns orange. If you sign off it turns gray. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday her indicator lights were green, orange and gray. This was after she was reported missing. So someone was on her Gmail account.

"I was trying to message her saying, 'Hello. I know you're online. Tell me what you're pissed about.' I would get no response. I emailed her throughout the day, saying, 'Is this how you're trying to break up with me?' "

At the time, he didn't know that Robyn had already been reported missing. He says Giordano had a history of breaking into others' accounts.

"A woman who used to date him contacted me and told me Giordano is very technologically savvy," Forester says. "This woman said he'd get into a person's email account, pick up their personality and would then take on that persona."

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Police believe that if Robyn drown where Giordano says she did, her body would have surfaced by now
UPDATE IV: Giordano is no longer cooperating with detectives.

So police in Aruba are asking for the FBI's help, hoping the agency can lend some expertise to the the investigation.

Aruban detectives don't seem to believe Giordano's story about Robyn drowning. For one, no one who knows her believes she'd actually go snorkeling. And they say if she drown where Giordano says she did, her body would have surfaced by now.

It's increasingly appearing that Giordano killed her somewhere else and is using the drowning as a ruse.

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Giordano once dressed in a deer costume to spy on his girlfriend from the woods behind her home
UPDATE V: Gary Giordano had an explosive temper and a controlling nature.

He'd become a wealthy man, living in a $1.3 million stone mansion in Gaithersburg, Maryland. But his riches didn't seem to help his love life.

The 50-year-old father of three boys -- one 19 and others 14-year-old twins -- first married Sharon Cohen in 1987. But that marriage would begin to dissolve by 2001. Wrote Cohen in court papers: "He can't control his anger."

She claimed he had a nasty temper and once hit her with a cooking spoon. He was also prone to throwing phones, loudly cussing her and becoming violent with one of their sons.

They would finally divorce in 2003. Giordano married again, but that would last just two years until another divorce in 2008.

After that, it seems he came to fancy thin, blond women like Robyn. One says he once told her that "the world would be better off without me," according to MSNBC. She also accused him of secretly recording their sex.

She got a restraining order against him, but claims Giordano retaliated by putting revealing photos in neighbors' mailboxes.

Giordano also got a restraining order against the woman, claiming she was slandering him through emails. So the woman eventually dropped her case against, saying she was too scared to go forth.

Former neighbor Jeanette Farago also says Giordano is a creepy bastard. She started dating him after his second divorce, only to find out that he had the controlling behavior of an abuser. He wanted to take her on a cruise too, but became irate when she refused to go.

He demanded her email password to make sure she wasn't seeing anyone else. He would even make her take photos when she went some place like the grocery, just to provide visual proof that she was where she said she was going.

He also stalked her. Sometimes he would text her a description of her clothes just to let her know he was watching her. And in the creepiest episode of all, he once dressed in a deer costume to spy on her from the woods behind her house.

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Robyn's accidental death meant a $1.5 million insurance policy payoff for Giordano
UPDATE VI: Giordano took a $1.5 million insurance policy out on Robyn before their trip.

Aruban police say he admitted to taking policies out on himself and Robyn before their vacation. The policy on Robyn would pay him $1.5 million in the event of her accidental death.

Why a man would need an insurance policy on a woman he'd only dated a short time would seem rather suspicious.

Police say they've also recovered Giordano's digital camera, which appears to show him shooting porn of Robyn during their trip. One source told MSNBC that the photos were "graphic and disturbing images" that are "beyond pornographic.''

But what that actually means is in the eye of the beholder. Aruba Solicitor General Taco Stein says the photos appear to be consensual and that Robyn shows no sign of duress in the pictures.

UPDATE VII: Giordano tried to cash his insurance policy just two days after Robyn went missing.


Police may have still been searching for his girlfriend, and no one was close to declaring her dead. Still, Gary Giordano seemed in a hurry to have the whole matter over and call his relationship with Robyn quits.

Just two days after he reported her missing, Giordano tried to cash in a $1.5 million insurance policy he'd taken out on her just for the trip. The American Express Travel Insurance policy was only good for the duration of their time in Aruba.

For some reason Giordano believed the insurer would rule Robyn dead and pay out even though the search for her was still on-going. The Associated Press says he called on August 4 to confirm that he was the beneficiary and begin proceedings to redeem the policy.

He also wanted to know if search costs would be covered by the policy. 

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Witnesses say Robyn was dressed up and drunk just two hours before she was reported missing

UPDATE VIII: Witness saw Robyn at a restaurant just two hours before she was reported missing.

Just two hours before she went missing, Robyn was at the Rum Reef Bar and Grill with Giordano. Witnesses say she was "perfectly put together" -- dressed up with her hair done -- making it doubtful she was prepared to go snorkeling.

They also believe Robyn was drunk. One said she was woozy and barely touched her salad. They left the restaurant at 4 p.m.

A fisherman says he also saw them walking along a jetty at the time they were supposed to be snorkeling. They got into a white rental car and drove off without ever getting into the water.

It turns out that Robyn had known Giordano for years after meeting on Match.com. They'd dated once, it didn't turn out, but they ended up remaining friends. But it seems that Giordano wanted more than that. Robyn's roommate says he was irate after he invited her to take a cruise with him earlier in the year and she canceled on him.

It seems Giordano also tried to get an 18-year-old model to go to Aruba with him as well. Carrie Emerson says Giordano called her home in July. He claimed he was a producer and that he'd seen her daughter's photos on the internet. He wanted to take her to Aruba for a photo shoot.

Emerson told him no, and at some point in the conversation Giordano became pissed, telling her that "he could make me disappear and no one would ever look for me."

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Robyn was photographed leaving a restaurant just two hours before she was reported missing
UPDATE IX: Giordano had a large scratch on his throat when he reported Robyn missing.

According to Aruban police, he approached three people on the beach asking for help, saying his girlfriend was lost while snorkeling. The problem is that while Giordano was sweating profusely, one of the witnesses said his shorts weren't wet.

Another noticed that he also had a scratch on his throat as if he'd been clawed by a woman's fingernail. 

A third witness says she noticed blood on the beach. When that person asked about the blood, Giordano reportedly responded out of the blue, "No, that's my girlfriend. I would never kill her."

Police believe that Giordano may have taken Robyn to Aruba to kill her for the insurance money, thinking he was inspired by Natalee Holloway's 2005 murder. Though police seem sure the Alabama teen was killed by Dutch national Joran van der Sloot, they've never been able to convict him.

But there's speculation that Giordano's plan erupted prematurely when he caught her sending loving texts to her boyfriend back in Maryland. On the day of her disappearance, she wrote to Richard Forrester back in Maryland: "I love you. I care about you. We'll sort this out when I get back."

Giordano had paid for the trip to Aruba, and the theory goes that he went crazy with jealousy when he found her writing to another man.

Detectives suspect he may have driven her to a nearby area that held 50 abandoned shacks once used by workers for an oil refinery. That's where he's presumed to have killed her, then thrown her body in the ocean to let it drift out to sea. 

See our last story from the Missing Persons file: Oscar Lozado Bought Buckets and Concrete Just Days Before His Wife Went Missing.


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