ORANJESTAD, Aruba Aug. 15, 2011 -- An Aruba judge ordered Gary Giordano, the sole suspect in the disappearance of Maryland woman Robyn Gardner to remain in Aruba for 16 more days.
Giordano is being held in the possible drowning of 35 year-old Gardner, who is now presumed dead. Giordano told police that he and Gardner were snorkeling together when Gardner was swept out to sea, but police arrested him following inconsistencies in his story, according to Aruba authorities.
Giordano left the hearing with a shirt over his head as he was put into a police van and driven back to prison.
Robyn Gardner's Family Hopes She Is Still Alive
Gardner's family applauded the judge's ruling.
"We are confident in the decision made by the Aruban authorities to keep Gary Giordano in custody," the family said in a statement released through a spokesman.
"We are still hoping to find out what has happened to our daughter, as we have not given up hope that she may still be alive. .. We just want to find our daughter, and we continue to ask the public for any tips they may have in helping our Robyn come home," the statement said.
In a hearing that lasted three hours, prosecutors convinced a judge that Giordano's history of domestic violence allegations and the inconsistencies in the story he told police about what happened to Gardner were suspicious enough to warrant further detention in the country.
Giordano'sattorney, Michael Lopez, had said prior to the hearing that he hoped a lack of evidence against his client would convince the judge let Giordano be released from jail.
Now, Aruba police will 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.
Police asking members of the public that may have information about Gardner's disappearance to call 011-297-582-0695 and leave their tip and contact information.The Natalee Holloway Resource Center, which is also helping with the case, has set up an American tip line at 407-237-2295.
Prosecutors will again have to go before a judge at the end of the 16 days to seek further detention or file formal charges.
Aruban police said they would focus on Giordano's "women troubles," including multiple restraining orders taken against him and allegations of domestic violence, when trying to convince the judge to detain him.
, 50, of Maryland, reported Gardner, 35, of Maryland, missing more than 10 days ago, claiming she was swept out to sea while they were snorkeling together. Police said they arrested Giordano due to inconsistencies in his statements.
Prosecutors this afternoon will focus on a history of domestic violence allegations and restraining orders to keep Giordano in Aruba for another eight days as they build their case against him. Gardner is now presumed dead, they said.
Two women were granted restraining orders against Giordano, and court documents obtained by ABC News show allegations of a violent assault by an ex-girlfriend.
"We argued about his past sexual lifestyle as a swinger. He started to choke me with both hands. He then shoved his fingers down my throat. I was struggling and gagging," the girlfriend testified in court documents.
Carrie Emerson, another woman who had contact with Giordano, told ABC News Giordano also offered to take her to Aruba about the same time he invited Gardner to the island, and to do a photo shoot there with Emerson's daughter, a model.
"He started telling me stuff, like that he would protect her, saying 'It's not going to be another Natalee Holloway or something,'" Emerson said, referring to the Alabama teenager who disappeared on the island in 2005.
Emerson said she has spoken with the FBI, which is assisting on the case. Federal agents searched Giordano's Maryland home over the weekend, seizing cell phones and laptops. The home was known to have been equipped with surveillance cameras and signs warning visitors that video and audio of their visits would be recorded, according to neighbors.
In recent days, police searched an abandoned phosphate mine not far from where Giordano says Gardner was swept out to sea, but found only a pink shirt and black sandals that don't belong to the missing woman.
Still, investigaotrs have not said they have a motive, a weapon, or a body to help prove their case.
Giordano's attorney in Aruba, Michael Lopez, said his client is cooperating with authorities, and that up until a few days before the two left for the trip, his client had no knowledge of Aruba.
"It was when his friend asked him to take her out of the states that he surfed on the internet to a travel website and booked two tickets to Aruba," Lopez said.
If the judge orders Giordano detained again, prosecutors will have another eight days to mount evidence against him, but the burden of proof to keep him in the country becomes significantly more difficult after that, police said.
The judge will have to decide next Tuesday whether to prolong Giordano's incarceration and at that point could order him held for another eight days. Aruba laws would allow Giordano to be held a maximum of 68 days.
Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee, has offered help to the efforts to find Gardner through the foundation she started, the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, in Washington, D.C. The foundation has been working with Robert Forester, Gardner's live-in boyfriend in Maryland, along with the Gardner family to get the word out about the appearance.