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FBI searches Maryland home of man suspected in missing woman case

By the CNN Wire Staff
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: FBI agents search the Maryland home of Gary Giordano, an FBI official says
  • NEW: They entered the house in FBI-branded vests and carrying empty boxes
  • Aruba's solicitor general says there's no sign of missing woman, no evidence she is dead
  • Gary Giordano is being held in connection with Robyn Gardner's disappearance

(CNN) -- FBI agents on Friday night searched the Maryland home of the suspect in the recent disappearance of an American woman in Aruba, an agent said.

The search is occurring in the Gaithersburg residence of Gary Giordano, who is currently being held in an Aruban jail, FBI Special Agent Rich Wolf told CNN.

Agents, wearing vests that said FBI and carrying empty cardboard and plastic boxes, arrived about 8:40 p.m. Friday. About 15 unmarked cars could be seen on the street, as well as a Montgomery County police vehicle.

Supervisory Special Agent Philip Celestini, who was at the residence, declined to comment further on the search, citing the active investigation.

Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said earlier Friday that the suspect will appear in court Monday, where an investigating magistrate could order him held for at least eight more days, order him to remain on the island or release him outright due to a lack of evidence.

Giordano was arrested by Aruban police on August 5, three days after Robyn Gardner was last seen near Baby Beach on the western tip of the Caribbean island.

Giordano told authorities that he had been snorkeling with Gardner when he signaled to her to swim back, according to a statement. When he reached the beach, Gardner was nowhere to be found, Giordano allegedly said.

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The area that Giordano led authorities to is a rocky, unsightly location that locals say is not a popular snorkeling spot.

Although prosecutors have continued to identify the 50-year-old American man by his initials, GVG, they also released a photo of a man who appears to be Giordano. His attorney, Michael Lopez, also has said that his client is being held as a suspect in Gardner's death. Lopez has not returned telephone calls seeking comment.

Giordano is no longer cooperating with authorities in the investigation, Stein has said.

Authorities are concerned for Gardner's welfare because she has not stepped forward despite all the publicity surrounding the case, Stein said. But they have no evidence that she is dead, he said.

Although officials have stopped actively searching for Gardner, they are continuing to seek evidence in the case, Stein said. Police are gathering and reviewing closed-circuit video feeds from hotels and other locations where the two were known to have been, but those materials are still being compiled and analyzed, he said.

Investigators also examined Giordano's rental car but were unable to find any clues to Gardner's disappearance, Stein said. That could be because the rental-car company washed and vacuumed the vehicle before police had a chance to examine it, Stein said.

The FBI is assisting in the investigation, an agency spokesman confirmed Thursday. Among other things, agents will conduct interviews in Maryland, where Gardner lives, said Richard Wolf, a spokesman for the FBI's Baltimore office.

According to Aruban prosecutors, the missing woman and the suspect arrived July 31 from the United States.

Gardner's friend Christina Jones told HLN's Nancy Grace that the woman had known Giordano for more than a year and flew to Aruba with him.

Jones said she had some concerns about the trip, but Gardner "calmed me and said it was OK, that the trip to Aruba was what she needed."

Lopez, Giordano's attorney, said Tuesday that his client came to Aruba on vacation with a female friend he had met on a dating site and has known for years.

Lopez earlier said that his client had been cooperating with police. Lopez said that on his client's last scheduled day in Aruba, he asked authorities whether he needed to stay.

"They didn't answer it, and on his way to the airport, they detained him as a suspect for murder," Lopez said.

The Aruban prosecutors office has declined to say what evidence led authorities to suspect Giordano's involvement in Gardner's disappearance.

Richard Forester of Maryland said he and Gardner have been dating for the past seven or eight months.

He told HLN's Nancy Grace on Wednesday evening that Gardner wasn't the type to go into deep water, and she would more likely stay by the pool.

"It's just not her to go out and snorkel," Forester said.

Forester said Tuesday that before Gardner's trip, the two argued over "the circumstances of her travel" to Aruba. He last heard from her August 2 in a Facebook message, in which she said they would "work it out" when she got back.

Earlier that day, Forester said, Gardner posted on her Facebook wall "this sucks," with no further explanation.

She was scheduled to return to the United States on August 4, Forester said.

In an interview with HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell on Thursday -- the same day he was interviewed by authorities -- Forester described Gardner as a woman who "loved life."

"She loved to be happy, loved to have fun, loved to be active," he said. "She had a very loving, warm heart."

The Natalee Holloway Resource Center -- named after a young American woman whose disappearance in Aruba made international news -- said Forester brought their attention to the case Monday.

The Aruban public prosecutor's office, as well as Forester, urged people in the Caribbean, the United States and elsewhere to come forward with information about Giordano, Gardner and the case.

CNN's Carol Cratty, Kim Uhl and Martin Savidge contributed to this report.

 
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