New Witness Disputes Gary Giordano's Claims in Case of Missing Woman in Aruba

Gary Giordano, appearing in shackles, is being questioned by Aruba authorities.

ByABC News
August 21, 2011, 11:44 AM

Aug. 21, 2011 — -- 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.

The witness says he was fishing on a beach on that day and he saw the two take a walk along the reef around 4 p.m., but they never went in the water.

A short time later, the couple drove away and he never saw either of them again, the witness says.

"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.

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.

The FBI is also investigating the American Express insurance policy.

Giordano 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.

Erratic Behavior Surrounding Disappearance

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 law enforcement source 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 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 law enforcement 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 law enforcement. 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 law enforcement 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.

Investigators also told ABC News of Giordano's other erratic behavior at the time of the disappearance -- including that he left the search early to get some sleep at his hotel.

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

These developments were considered so significant that on Tuesday Judge Monique Yarzagaray ruled that Giordano be detained for double the time the prosecution originally requested. While in jail Giordano will undergo day-long interrogation each day, in which his lawyer can only be present before and afterward.

Aruba police will now 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, which is helping with the investigation.