Gary Giordano wins appeal, denies involvement in Aruba disappearance

FILE - In this file photo provided Thursday Aug. 11, 2011 by Aruba police, U.S. citizen Gary V. Giordano, 50, of Gaithersburg, Maryland is shown in an Aruba police mugshot in Oranjestad, Aruba. Giordano, detained in Aruba in the presumed death of his travel partner Robyn Gardner, had an accidental-death insurance policy on her for $1.5 million and sought to claim the money two days after reporting her missing, a person who provided information to the investigation has told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Aruba Police, File)
Gary V. Giordano
AP Photo/Aruba Police, File

(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - A Maryland businessman detained for four months after the presumed death of Robyn Gardner, his traveling companion in Aruba, said Thursday he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

Pictures: Robyn Gardner

Gary Giordano, 50, was released from jail Tuesday, and on Wednesday, an appeals court ruled that prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to put him back in pretrial detention in Gardner's case.

The Maryland man returned to the U.S. on Wednesday, flying first to Miami then getting on a plane to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

During an 11-minute interview Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Giordano, of Gaithersburg, Md., tried to clarify aspects of his behavior that investigators have called suspicious. He said the $1.5 million accidental death policy he took out on Gardner was part of a travel insurance package that covered both of them. He  also said he always takes out travel insurance because he wants his three sons to be protected if something happens to him.

"If I go traveling and I disappear, I want them to be covered. I maxed out on everything," Giordano said.

He said he also inquired about the insurance two days after Gardner's disappearance on the advice of his former attorney, who told him he could be billed for expenses related to the search for her.

Aruban prosecutors still consider Giordano a suspect and are continuing to pursue the case with the assistance of the FBI. But they likely cannot return him to Aruba unless they intend to bring him to trial.

Asked by "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts whether he had anything to do with Gardner's disappearance, Giordano said, "absolutely not." But he said he does have regrets.

"A person that I cared about, a companion ... has disappeared on my watch," he said. "It will weigh heavily on me for a very long time."

He said surveillance video of him in the immediate aftermath of Gardner's appearance fails to capture his sense of urgency. The video shows him shirtless, wearing swim trunks and tennis shoes, knocking on doors. He does not appear panicked.

He said he was exhausted after swimming back to shore and that he couldn't find anyone.

"There's nobody there! I'm supposed to scream into the air?" Giordano said.

Giordano, a divorced owner of an employment services company, was arrested on Aug. 5 as he was preparing to board his previously scheduled flight out of Aruba, after reporting to police that Gardner disappeared while snorkeling. He said he had been told by authorities that he could leave and that Gardner's mother also encouraged him to go home.

Giordano spoke Thursday alongside his attorney, Jose Baez, who won an acquittal earlier this year for Florida mother Casey Anthony, who was accused of killing her daughter.

Giordano's sons stood behind him during the interview. He was reunited with them Wednesday night in New York, ABC News reported. After he found out Wednesday that the prosecutors' appeal was denied, he told ABC that he never expected to be freed.

Complete coverage of the Robyn Gardner case on Crimesider