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.

updated 8/18/2011 5:51:45 PM ET 2011-08-18T21:51:45

Investigators have been told that just two days after an American tourist was reported missing in Aruba, her travel companion tried to collect on a $1.5 million accidental-death insurance policy he took out on her, The Associated Press has learned.

A person who provided information to authorities told the AP that Gary V. Giordano, now detained on the Caribbean island, bought the insurance specifically for his five-day getaway with Robyn Gardner. The person did not have authorization to publicly release the information and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.

Aruban authorities have confirmed that Giordano had an insurance policy that covered the missing woman, but have not said who the beneficiary is, how much the policy is worth or whether Giordano tried to collect.

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

Giordano, a 50-year-old owner of a temporary staffing business from Gaithersburg, Md., traveled to Aruba with Gardner on July 31 and reported her missing two days later. He told police that she disappeared while the two were snorkeling.

He initially assisted the search but was detained at the airport Aug. 5 as he tried to leave Aruba. Authorities said they found discrepancies in his story. Giordano has denied any wrongdoing through his attorney.

A judge ruled Monday there is enough evidence to hold Giordano until at least the end of August on suspicion of involvement in Gardner's presumed death. The 35-year-old woman's body has not been found and Aruban authorities on Thursday were preparing for a new, large-scale search of the island for her remains or other evidence.

Aruban authorities in general seem more guarded with information than they were during the investigation into the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway — a case that remains unsolved. Holloway disappeared on the final night of a high school graduation trip to the island.

'Not an uncommon thing'
Solicitor General Taco Stein, the spokesman for the investigation, has confirmed that Giordano had travel insurance, but said authorities are still reviewing financial documents provided by U.S. authorities and are trying to determine if they are relevant to the investigation.

"It's not unusual in and of itself to buy travel insurance," he told the AP. "Loads of people do it."

Story: Images of woman missing in Aruba found on camera

Investigators were trying to determine if there was anything unusual about the policy. "If you change the policy around and make it higher or whatever, then it may be of interest to the investigation, but we haven't established that yet," Stein said.

The person with knowledge of the policy told the AP that Giordano purchased the $1.5 million policy shortly before he left for Aruba and that the accidental-death benefit covered only the trip.

The source told the AP that Giordano called American Express Travel Insurance on Aug. 4. He sought to confirm that the documents listing him as the insurance beneficiary had been received and wanted to begin redeeming the policy.

This person also said that records indicate Giordano asked whether any search costs would be covered by the policy.

A spokeswoman for American Express, Gail Wasserman, said the company could not comment on any individual policies for privacy reasons.

Giordano's attorney, Michael Lopez, did not respond to a request to comment on the insurance policy. The attorney has previously said that there is no evidence that Giordano committed any crime and that he should be released.

'Explicit' photos on camera
Investigators are seeking to collect enough evidence by the next detention hearing to hold Giordano for another 60 days and proceed to trial. Among the material collected so far, Stein said, are "explicit" photos of Gardner that were stored on Giordano's camera, which has been confiscated.

Stein declined to provide details of the photos, but he said that partial images of Giordano appeared in some of them. Investigators are still trying to determine when the photos were taken.

The FBI, which searched Giordano's home in an upscale Washington suburb, has been assisting Aruban authorities with the investigation and has put out a missing-person poster with three photographs of the 5-foot-4-inch blonde, including one showing a jungle-print design tattoo on her left shoulder. The poster urges anyone with information about Gardner to contact the FBI or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

The exact nature of the relationship between Gardner, who had a boyfriend back home in Maryland, and Giordano, a twice-divorced father of three sons, isn't clear, but the prosecutor's office has said they stayed in a room together at a Marriott hotel in Aruba. Gardner, who is from Frederick, Md., had recently been laid off from her job as a patient care coordinator at a dental office.

Investigators said they have little information about what the couple did and how they behaved while on the island and have urged any witnesses to contact police.


Associated Press writer Justin Juozapavicius contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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