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Video: Aruba suspect’s camera had ‘disturbing’ pics

  1. Transcript of: Aruba suspect’s camera had ‘disturbing’ pics

    SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, co-host: Police in Aruba are releasing new details in the mysterious disappearance of a Maryland woman there. We're going to talk to the man leading that investigation in a moment, but first NBC 's Janet Shamlian has the latest now from Aruba . Janet , good morning.

    JANET SHAMLIAN reporting: Savannah, good morning to you. Will a digital camera help provide clues to what might have happened to Robyn Gardner ? Sources tell NBC News graphic and disturbing images of Gardner were found on Gary Giordano 's digital camera , a camera that's now been sent to the nearby island of Curacao for analysis along with Giordano 's cell phone and his laptop. When Gary Giordano booked the getaway to this tropical island, Aruban officials say he also got travel insurance . One policy for himself, one for Robyn Gardner . It covered the usual likely losses, airplane tickets and hotels, but it also provided a payout in case of accidental death while on vacation.

    Mr. TACO STEIN (Solicitor General of Aruba): As far as we know, it's a travel insurance policy and we asked the US authorities to investigate that for us.

    SHAMLIAN: Stein tells NBC News Aruba has the policy. It was turned over by the US following a search of Giordano 's home last week. The Maryland man volunteered the insurance information during questioning and after the search along the beach where he reported Robyn went missing.

    Mr. CLINT VAN ZANDT (NBC News Analyst): We don't know what was going through Mr. Giordano 's mind at the time he took this out, but it would seem that this casual relationship is not one that would particularly call upon taking out a life insurance policy, especially should he have made himself the beneficiary.

    SHAMLIAN: Giordano 's digital camera , cell phone and computer from his hotel room have been sent to nearby Curacao for analysis. And sources working the investigation tell NBC Aruba reporter Yentl Lieuw there is new potentially significant evidence.

    YENTL LIEUW reporting: The possible evidence is a rock with a full hand print and blood on it.

    SHAMLIAN: In prison Wednesday, Giordano was questioned by investigators with his attorney present. Michael Lopez has repeatedly declared his client's innocence, but now says he can't comment further, as Giordano threatened to fire him if he shows up on TV again talking about the case.

    Mr. MICHAEL LOPEZ: No question right now.

    SHAMLIAN: Giordano 's accommodations in lock-up not quite the plush beachside Marriott .

    Mr. GIOVANNI LANE (Editor, Diario Newspaper in Aruba): I spoke to a contact of mine from prison today and he said he saw Giordano . Giordano is in a cell with two other prisoners and they're from Aruba . He was pretty calm sitting in prison.

    SHAMLIAN: With more evidence needed to hold Giordano , an extensive search for a body will be launched in Aruba 's more rural spots. And that search will be focused solely on finding a body. It'll be focused on the southern part of the island, which unlike the tourist areas here is largely desertlike, rugged and uninhabited. Matt , back to you.

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Janet Shamlian in Aruba for us this morning. Janet , thank you very much . Aruba 's solicitor general Taco Stein is overseeing the case against Gary Giordano . He's with us exclusively from Aruba . Mr. Stein , thank you for joining us. Good morning.

    Mr. STEIN: Good morning, how are you?

    LAUER: I'm fine, thank you. There is still a lot of questions about the nature of the relationship between Ms. Gardner and Mr. Giordano , but there are reports this morning I'd like you to comment about, that photographs have been found on the digital camera belonging to Mr. Giordano that have been described by some as beyond pornographic, featuring Ms. Gardner . Can you comment on that?

    Mr. STEIN: I can admit a camera has been confiscated and it's looked at presently by the police to see what's on it and whether or not it has bearing on our investigation. While you understand that I'm not in a position to comment upon what's upon the camera, what kind of pictures those are.

    LAUER: But can you tell me if based on what you've seen or heard about those photographs, does it show a situation where a couple seems to be on a routine vacation or does Ms. Gardner appear to be under some kind of duress?

    Mr. STEIN: Well, what I've heard about it is that there's no indication that there's talk of duress in the pictures . But I cannot dwell upon what's in the camera, what kind of pictures they are.

    LAUER: I know that you have not had direct contact with Mr. Giordano while he's in custody, but I would imagine you have people observing...

    Mr. STEIN: Correct.

    LAUER: ...him, and can you tell me or describe his demeanor at this point? Is he showing any remorse, is he showing any concern for his traveling companion?

    Mr. STEIN: Well, as far as I know, but as you say I haven't been in direct contact with him, he -- his demeanor is that he's fighting these accusations, he is denying what has happened. So remorse is -- this is not in the textbook at the moment. For concern, I have not heard that there is much concern being voiced by him.

    LAUER: According to People magazine , Mr. Stein , you describe Mr. Giordano in this way, and they have you quoted here, quote, "He is a mean bastard," end quote. And then the next quote, "The way he treats women it's all geared toward himself." You're smiling. Is that an accurate quote?

    Mr. STEIN: In that search that I was confronted at that moment with information from the United States about his court case which restraining orders has been -- have been taken out by -- against him by women who have been bothered by him and have been, well, troubled by him.

    LAUER: And do you think, though, that that quote coming from you in some ways might be problematic at this stage of the case?

    Mr. STEIN: Well, I don't know. I can have an opinion myself about a person. I'm not dealing with the case myself. So my colleagues who will take the case to court will not be biased.

    LAUER: Mr. Stein , I appreciate your time this morning. I appreciate it very much. Let us bring in John Q. Kelly . He's the attorney for Beth Holloway Twitty and worked with Aruban authorities in the disappearance of Beth 's daughter, Natalee . John , good to see you.

    Mr. JOHN Q. KELLY (Attorney for Holloway Family): Good to see you, Matt. Sure.

    LAUER: What jumps out at you from the first two weeks of what you've been hearing here?

    Mr. KELLY: I think law enforcement down there was -- immediately recognized the potential gravity of this situation, recognized the potential of foul play in this situation and reacted swiftly. And, you know, the way they should have.

    LAUER: You know Aruba well.

    Mr. KELLY: Yes.

    LAUER: You know how difficult it can be to conduct a search there. What are the main problems?

    Mr. KELLY: Well, it's desolate, it's rugged. About 80 percent of the island is, you know, unreachable basically. You have large, shifting sand dunes, you have caves, you have abandoned salt mine shafts and it's tough to search even though it's a small island .

    LAUER: Gary Giordano had to be a suspect in this case from the moment that Robyn Gardner went missing. And yet, a few days after the search began he went to an airport, got through security and US customs and was about to board a plane. Why did Aruban authorities allow him to get that far?

    Mr. KELLY: I'd like to think it was by design. I mean, I'd like to think they wanted to see what -- he'd answered questions going through Aruban customs and you go through US customs , answer more questions. And I think they'd want to see what he had with him when he was trying to leave there and what he may have tried to discard.

    LAUER: I would imagine you have heard and I have personally heard over these last couple of weeks people here in the United States make comments to the effect of if you want to get away with murder, go to Aruba , that the perception is that the law enforcement authorities down there are not up to a challenge like that? Is that a fair assessment?

    Mr. KELLY: I don't think under this circumstance. You know, the implausibility of Giordano 's story where they say the accident took place, rough waters off the tip of the island, you know, bordering Venezuela there. You know, it's a difficult situation. I think they've reacted accordingly and they reached out to the FBI and they're taking the appropriate steps in this circumstance.

    LAUER: John Q. Kelly . John , thank you very much for you time. I appreciate it.

TODAY contributor
updated 8/18/2011 8:43:08 AM ET 2011-08-18T12:43:08

A digital camera belonging to detained U.S. tourist Gary Giordano that was seized by Aruban authorities allegedly contains shocking images of travel companion Robyn Gardner, who is presumed dead by authorities after disappearing earlier this month.

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The camera contains “graphic and disturbing images” that are “beyond pornographic,’’ sources told NBC News. The camera, along with Giordano’s cell phone and laptop, have been sent to the nearby island of Curacao for inspection by authorities.

Aruba Solicitor General Taco Stein, who is leading the case, confirmed to TODAY’s Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview on Thursday that a camera has been confiscated, but would not comment on the specific nature of the photos on it. However, from what he understands, Gardner does not appear to be in danger in the photos.

“What I’ve heard about it is that there is no indication that there is talk of duress in the pictures,’’ Stein said.

Story: Md. man faces more questions in woman's disappearance in Aruba

Giordano, 50, arrived in Aruba with Gardner, 35, on July 31, and he reported her missing on Aug. 2 after the two had gone snorkeling in an area of the island usually frequented by locals rather than tourists. When he tried to leave the country after being questioned by authorities, he was detained at the airport.

On Monday a judge ruled that there is enough evidence to hold Giordano for another 16 days because of his potential involvement in the disappearance of Gardner, who is presumed dead.

In addition to the camera, a rock with a full handprint and blood on it has also been discovered, according to the NBC News report. It is unclear if the rock is connected to Gardner’s disappearance.

Image: Gary V. Giordano, speaks with Aruba police detectives
Elton Malone  /  AP
Gary Giordano, left, speaks with Aruba police detectives on Aug. 3 about the disappearance of his travel partner, Robyn Gardner. Suspecting his account, police have detained Giordano.

Giordano’s lawyer had no comment, as he reportedly has been told by Giordano that he will be fired if he appears on camera again speaking about the case.

Denial, not remorse
Giordano has allegedly been calm in his cell while being detained and has shown more anger over being implicated in Gardner’s presumed death than remorse over her disappearance.

“As far as I know, but as you say I haven’t been in direct contact with him, his demeanor is that he’s fighting these accusations,’’ Stein told Lauer Thursday. “He is denying what has happened. Remorse is not in the textbook at the moment.’’

The revelation about the camera came one day after it was learned that Giordano told authorities during questioning that he had taken out a travel insurance policy on himself and a $1.5 million policy on Gardner before their vacation. The policies reportedly pay out upon any case of accidental death.

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“We don’t know what was going through Mr. Giordano’s mind at the time he took this out, but it would seem this casual relationship is not one that would particularly call upon taking out a life insurance policy, especially if he made himself the beneficiary,” NBC News analyst Clint Van Zandt commented.

Giordano also has a troubled history involving women, including multiple restraining orders taken against him and allegations of domestic incidents. People magazine recently quoted Stein as saying: “He is a mean bastard. The way he treats women is all geared toward himself.’’

Video: Aruba suspect’s camera had ‘disturbing’ pics (on this page)

Questioned by Lauer about those comments on Thursday, Stein replied: “I was confronted at that moment with information from the United States about his court cases, in which restraining orders had been taken out against him by women who have been bothered by him, and well, troubled by him.

“I can hold an opinion myself about a person,” Stein added. “I’m not dealing with the case myself, so my colleagues who will take the case to court will not be biased.’’

Story: Boyfriend fears for safety of woman missing in Aruba

Aruban authorities plan a meticulous search for Gardner’s body, focusing on the desolate, uninhabited southern portion of the island, which is dotted with caves and old mine shafts. Their work thus far has been solid, according to attorney John Q. Kelly, who spoke with Lauer on Thursday.

Kelly is the lawyer for Beth Holloway Twitty, the mother of Natalee Ann Holloway, a student from Alabama who vanished on a trip to Aruba in May 2005 and was never found after an investigation that was criticized by some law experts. Multiple men were arrested in her disappearance, but no one was ever convicted.

“I think law enforcement down there immediately recognized the potential gravity of the situation, recognized the potential of foul play in the situation, and reacted swiftly and the way they should’ve,’’ Kelly said about the Gardner case. “I think they’ve reacted accordingly. They’ve reached out to the FBI, and they’re taking the appropriate steps in this circumstance.’’

Giordano went through customs and was ready to board a plane back to the United States before he was detained. Lauer asked Kelly how the suspect managed to get that far.

“I’d like to think it was by design,’’ Kelly said. “I think [Aruban authorities] wanted to see what he had with him when he was trying to leave there and what he tried to discard.’’

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