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Maryland woman missing in Aruba; travel partner held

A U.S. man detained in Aruba denies he had anything to do with the disappearance of a woman vacationing with him. Her boyfriend in Maryland says he just wants her back.
Image: Robyn Gardner
This photo of Robyn Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Md., was released by the Natalee Holloway Resource Center on Tuesday. The prosecutor's office in Aruba says Gardner disappeared in the Caribbean island after she went snorkeling with travel partner Gary V. Giordano, 50.AP
/ Source: staff and news service reports

An American man detained in Aruba denies he had anything to do with the disappearance of a woman vacationing with him on the Caribbean island, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Attorney Michael Lopez said his client is being unjustly held in the disappearance of 35-year-old Robyn Gardner of Frederick, Md.

In Frederick, Gardner's boyfriend of two years, Richard Forester, said he just wants her back. The two fought but made up before she left for the trip, Forester claimed.

Lopez said in a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press that Gary V. Giordano has told Aruban police that the woman disappeared in strong ocean currents while they were snorkeling.

Aruban authorities reported that Gardner was last seen Aug. 2 at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino in Oranjestad. The Aruba Prosecutor's Office said Giordano told authorities he was going snorkeling with Gardner behind Nanki Country Club when he signaled her to return to the beach, but she didn't show up.

She has not turned up despite days of air, land and sea searches by Aruban police, coast guard and divers, officials said in a statement obtained by NBC News.

Giordano "emphatically denies" any wrongdoing, his lawyer said in a statement. Giordano had sought to leave Aruba on Friday because he was told he wasn't a suspect and didn't have to stay.

Police detained the 50-year-old Giordano as he attempted to leave "for further questioning on the possible drowning of the woman," the prosecutor's office said.

A Facebook page was set up to discuss the disappearance.

According to an Aruban newspaper, Giordano and Gardner had met on an online dating site.

For many people, this case is all too familiar, NBC station WHAG in Hagerstown, Md., reported.

"I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it's another missing United States citizens, female in Aruba and blonde and beautiful," said Forester.

Gardner had been staying in the same resort Natalee Holloway disappeared from back in 2005.

Forester contacted the Natalee Holloway Resource Center in Washington, D.C., which helped spread news of Gardner's disappearance. The organization that provides assistance to the families of missing people.

While the case has not been escalated to a murder investigation, Aruban officials believe Giordano played a role in the disappearance.

"They said they have her computer, her iPad and I asked them a couple of hours ago when I was talking to them, have you gotten into it yet and they told me they're working on it," explained Forester.

Forester, who had fought with Gardner about her trip with Giordano before she departed, says the last words they exchanged were "I love you." Now they're words he hopes to hear once again.

"They told me they were sending the BlackBerry to the Netherlands because they were more capable of getting into it there," explained Forester. "They told me that the FBI is involved, the Interpol is involved and I said you know I want that BlackBerry put in the FBI's hands."