The boyfriend of a Frederick County, Md., woman who vanished in Aruba nine days ago expressed serious doubts about her companion’s story that she disappeared in the ocean while the pair were out snorkeling.
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“I don’t accept for one minute that she was snorkeling,” Richard Forester told Matt Lauer of his girlfriend, Robyn Gardner, live via satellite on TODAY Thursday.
Forester told Lauer that Gardner at first lied to him about her trip, originally telling him she was headed to Florida to visit family. Actually, she was visiting Aruba with Gary Giordano, a man she had met on an online dating site a year earlier.
According to the Associated Press, Giordano, 50, contacted police around 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 2 and told them he and Gardner got separated while snorkeling and that she never made it back to shore. But authorities found enough inconsistencies in Giordano’s account that they arrested him when he attempted to leave Aruba on Friday.
On Thursday afternoon an FBI spokesman said that the bureau is assisting Aruba law enforcement in investigating the disappearance, conducting interviews and providing other support. Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said that investigators believe that if Gardner had drowned in the area as Giordano indicates, her body would have surfaced by now.
Forester told Lauer he has strong suspicions himself about Giordano’s story, believing his 35-year-old girlfriend wouldn’t be swimming, much less snorkeling, that late in the afternoon.
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“She’s too concerned about her hair, about her makeup; at this point in the [day], being in a place like Aruba, she’s probably had a couple of drinks and she’s not going to stop to go swimming in the ocean,” Forester said.
“She’s probably getting ready to go out to dinner, [out] for the evening. She’s never been a fan of snorkeling … she wasn’t that interested. She is a swimmer, but would prefer to be in a pool.”
The case, which eerily echoes the disappearance of American Natalee Holloway in Aruba six years ago, took an ominous turn when court records surfaced that Giordano has a criminal record and has had at least two orders of protection taken out against him from women who claim he was violent toward them.
Lauer asked Forester if Giordano’s checkered past gives him cause for concern about his girlfriend’s disappearance.
“Very much so,” he replied. “I’ve had people come out from his past who have contacted me and told me some pretty bad details, so I definitely have a very bad feeling. [But] at the same time I just try to stay optimistic and hopeful that she’ll be back and returned safely.”Story: Md. man faces more questions in woman's disappearance in Aruba
Forester told Lauer he had never met Giordano, though he had heard Gardner mention him. “I was under the impression it was just a friend,” he said.
A friend of Gardner’s has also stated she believed Gardner and Giordano were platonic. Forester said Gardner sent him an email while in Aruba saying she had a change of plans from visiting family in Florida.
But the day of her disappearance, he got a somewhat more concerning message. “A little after 2 in the morning, she posted a message on my Facebook wall saying, ‘This sucks,’ ” Forester told Lauer. “I didn’t get it until the morning when I got to work. I questioned her, but she didn’t respond.”Video: Boyfriend speaks out about woman missing in Aruba (on this page)
But Forester finally did hear back from Gardner around 3 p.m., just hours before Giordano reported her missing. “She sent me an inbox message on Facebook saying, ‘I love you, I care about you and we’ll talk about this and sort it out when we get back.’ ”
Lauer asked Forester if the fact his girlfriend had gone to a resort country with another man troubled him. And while Forester acknowledged it did, he noted that Gardner has been going through emotionally trying times lately.
“She had lost her job recently, so I really can’t say where her mind was at at that point,” he said. “My biggest concern isn’t that she was there with another man. That’s an issue, but my biggest concern is that she’s found safely and I’m able to have that discussion with her.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.
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