Gabby Petito was reported missing by her family on September 11. Now, her boyfriend has been named as a person of interest in the case.
The 22-year-old woman from Long Island had been out of contact with her parents for 13 days before she was reported missing to the police.
She was last known to be in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park in late August, a month into a cross-country trip with her fiancé, identified as Brian Laundrie.
Laundrie, after returning to his home in Florida, has since hired an attorney and refused to publicly comment on the case. However, he has since been named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance, with it being discovered that a possible incident of domestic violence might have allegedly taken place between the pair.
Petito is still missing, however police are retracing her steps prior to her disappearance. In a recent statement, police disclosed they had no ‘definitive information’ about the incident, which took place in North Port. However, they did say that they believed the circumstances to be ‘odd’.
The young couple had been travelling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida plates, according to reports. The vehicle was recovered on September 11 according to a statement from the police department, and was ‘fully processed for evidence along with FBI agents Tuesday evening’, NBC News reports.
Since Petito went missing, her boyfriend Laundrie and also his father, Christopher Laundrie, have both refused to comment on the ongoing investigation. On Monday, September 13, his father did not comment on his son’s whereabouts.
The pair had been documenting their travels in the van via YouTube under the names Nomadic Statik and Van Life.
On Wednesday, September 15, North Port police confirmed Petito’s fiancé was now a person of interest in the case.
Police said Laundrie has ‘not provided any helpful details’ and ‘not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators’.
We know Brian returned here to North Port on September 1st – ten days before her family reported her missing on September 11th. We have no information that a crime occurred here in North Port.
On Wednesday, Petito’s family attorney, Richard Stafford, told NBC News the search is continuing daily, as the ‘Schmidt and Petito family’ are becoming more and more ‘desperate’. ‘They are frantically searching for answers and information in their daughter’s disappearance while Brian sits in the comfort of his home,’ he said.
On the same day, Steven P. Bertolino, Laundrie’s family attorney, explained that Laundrie would not speak about the case as ‘intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focus their attention on in cases like this’. He claimed that the warning ‘any statement made will be used against you’ is ‘true’, ‘regardless’ of whether his client had anything to do with the disappearance.
According to Bertolino, Laundrie will ‘continue to remain silent on the advice of counsel’.
The news of Laundrie becoming a person of interest follows the information that has arisen about a possible domestic violence incident between the pair that may have occurred near Arches National Park. Police were called by a witness who said he ‘feared the worst’ after seeing the couple argue while in their van.
According to police. the couple’s relationship had been strained due to the cross country trip and ‘increased the number of arguments’.
North Port Police have said that the Suffolk County police in New York are being assisted in their inquiries by FBI Tampa Field Office.
Chief Todd Garrison stated:
We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us to her whereabouts in the past few weeks.
He concluded that the lack of information from Laundrie was ‘hindering’ the investigation, but that ‘answers will eventually come out’.
An FBI hotline has been set up for anyone who has information on Gabby Petito. Call 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).
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