Story at a glance
- Gabby Petito, 22, was reported missing on Sept. 11 after failing to return from a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.
- Laundrie returned alone to the Florida home the two shared with his parents on Sept. 1 with Petito’s van.
- Authorities on Wednesday announced Laundrie is considered a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance.
Authorities in Florida have named Brian Laundrie a person of interest in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito.
"As of now, Brian has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details," the North Port Police Department said in a news release, adding, “Brian Laundrie is a person of interest in this case."
The 22-year-old Petito set out on a cross-country road trip from New York, where her parents live, on July 2 with Laundrie. The couple had been documenting much of the road trip on YouTube and social media, and Petito stayed in touch with her family throughout.
However, she hasn’t been seen since Aug. 24, and her family hasn’t heard from her since that day when she Facetimed her mother, Nicole Schmidt. Petito is believed to have been in the area of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming at that time.
Her mother has stated she did receive short text communications between Aug. 27-30, but she does not believe it was her daughter.
Schmidt received a final text from her daughter’s cell phone on Aug. 30 that read, “No service in Yosemite.”
“I do not believe the text on August 30th was from my daughter,” Schmidt told the New York Post, adding, “The van was in Florida on the 1st [of September]. I think I can do the math.”
Authorities confirmed on Wednesday that Laundrie returned alone to the North Port home he had been sharing with Petito and his parents on Sept. 1 with Petito’s 2012 Ford Transit van. The van has since been impounded by authorities and processed for evidence, with the FBI assisting with the investigation.
Latest on Petito case Wednesday September 15, 11:30am. Please use 1-800 CALLFBI pic.twitter.com/NpkUEjoME5— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 15, 2021
Her family reported her missing on Sept. 11 after failing to hear from Petito. Schmidt claims she also attempted to contact Laundrie, as well as his mother, when she could not reach Petito, but she received no response.
The Moab Police Department in Utah has since revealed that it responded to a disturbance involving the couple on Aug. 12 after a witness called 911. The witness alleged to have seen Petito slap Laundrie on the arm and try to crawl in through a window after he locked her from the van. The couple reported no slap had occurred and charges weren’t filed.
Since returning to Florida, authorities have stated Laundrie hired a lawyer and denied repeated attempts by the police to contact him in regards to Petito’s disappearance.
A search is reportedly underway near Grand Teton National Park where Petito is believed to have last been seen.
"As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby's family is going through. We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks," said North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison. “The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance."
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