- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2011

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Robyn Gardner’s wild and rowdy tattoos belie the kind, quiet nature of a trusting woman who sought solace in a tropical getaway with a man who now is suspected in her disappearance, a close friend said.

The 35-year-old divorced Ms. Gardner accepted 50-year-old Gary Giordano’s offer of a trip to Aruba despite earlier backing out of a cruise with the man she’d been friends with for over a year, Ms. Gardner’s friend and part-time roommate Christina Jones said Wednesday.

“She’s a very trusting person,” Ms. Jones said at her hair salon in downtown Frederick. “She’s a hard-working, loyal, stand-up female who has never said anything bad about anyone.”

Mr. Giordano’s account of the disappearance had enough inconsistencies that authorities decided they couldn’t let him leave the Caribbean island and arrested him, Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said.

“The only thing we have is his story, his statement, and it leaves us with some questions,” Mr. Stein said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Mr. Giordano’s Aruban lawyer, Michael Lopez, insists his client is innocent and is being unjustly detained.

Ms. Gardner’s mother, Andrea Colson, said the family is hoping for the best outcome, praying Ms. Gardner will be with them soon and grateful to Aruban authorities and volunteers.

“I hope you understand that we are being quiet as to not jeopardize the investigation,” Ms. Colson said in a statement released by the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, a Virginia-based missing persons group named for a young Alabama woman who vanished on Aruba in 2005.

Photos on a “help find RobynFacebook page feature Ms. Gardner’s body ink, including a jungle-print design on her left shoulder and a Latin phrase tattooed over her right ribcage. Translated, it reads, “If I can’t move the earth then I’ll raise hell.”

But the pretty, 5-foot-5-inch blonde was more reserved than the pictures suggest, according to Ms. Jones and Ms. Gardner’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Richard Forester of Rockville.

At Mr. Forester’s home, where she often stayed, she took care of two cats, Kobe and Toonsy, and relaxed by watching travel and food shows on TV, he said.

She also enjoyed watching “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and “Real Housewives of New York,” Mr. Forester said.

“She just liked the drama of it,” he said.

Mr. Forester said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that Ms. Gardner posted a message on his Facebook wall about 2 a.m. last Tuesday saying “this sucks,” but with no explanation. He said he emailed her throughout the day, and she responded that afternoon to say that she loved him and that they would sort things out when she returned.

Ms. Jones told CBS’ “Early Show” that Mr. Giordano was a friend, not a boyfriend, of Ms. Gardner’s and that the two had a “a bit of a roller-coaster” relationship. “Good one day, not so great the next,” she said, adding she had heard about Mr. Giordano only through Ms. Gardner and never met the man herself.

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