With its sparkling turquoise waters and expanse of palm-speckled beaches, Aruba has a reputation as an island paradise. But when 35-year-old Robyn Gardner visited in 2011, she would never be seen again.
When Gardner went away for a few days, she had told her long-term boyfriend, Richard Forester, that she was visiting Orlando with family. In fact, she was visiting the Dutch Caribbean island with 50-year-old CEO Gary Giordano, a man that she had met online.
According to Giordano, he and Gardner had travelled to Baby Beach for some snorkeling on August 2nd when a strong tide pulled them out to sea. He struggled out of the current towards the shore, assuming Gardner was behind him, but realised once on land that she was nowhere to be seen. While the search for Gardner was underway, Giordano attempted to return home to the states, but suspicions were roused by his sweat-drenched appearance and claims that Gardner was ‘taking another flight’. He was then detained by Aruban authorities while they took a fresh look at Giordano’s story.
Further investigation revealed that he had purchased a travel insurance policy for Gardner which named him as sole beneficiary in the event of her death; a policy which would have a payout of $1.5 million. Just 2 days after Gardner’s disappearance, he had attempted to collect the money. Giordano also claimed that the day she went missing Gardner had taken a sleeping pill and that they had been drinking vodka just that afternoon, an unusual decision for someone who was preparing to go snorkelling. Friends and family of Gardner said it was unlikely that she would go snorkelling at all as she spent thousands of dollars on hair extensions, and witnesses reported her in full hair and makeup in the hours leading to their supposed expedition.
Surveillance footage at a restaurant the pair had visited showed Giordano retrieving a blue plastic cup from his car which he claimed contained juice, despite the fact the restaurant had a fully stocked bar. Weather reports from that day also indicated that the day had been an altogether mild one, and the sea had in fact been calm. Despite his claims that he had run frantically back to the restaurant once he realised Gardner was missing, footage also showed him walking to the now closed building and calmly knocking at the windows, not even waiting for a response before moving on to the next, and taking 20 minutes to reach the kitchen and ask someone to call for help. Once the police arrived, he excused himself just half an hour later so he could go and take a nap.
Gary Giordano had a history of controlling and abusive behaviour towards women, even watching an ex-girlfriend from the woods behind her home and blackmailing another with covert footage of them having sex. Twice-divorced, he is the father of three sons, a wealthy man who by all accounts will happily flaunt his status in order to get what he wants.
After hiring lawyer Jose Baez (who is perhaps most well known for representing Casey Anthony), Giordano was released from prison after 4 months and was allowed to return home. When American Express refused to pay out on the policy, Giordano attempted to sue them for $3.5 million and has also released a book about his experience on the island. To this day, the remains of Robyn Gardner have never been found.
What do you think happened to Robyn Gardner? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.