Gabby Petito missing: Boyfriend named person of interest in disappearance of LI woman

Local News

SUFFOLK COUNTY — Investigators looking for a missing woman from Long Island named her boyfriend as a person of interest in the case on Wednesday.

Gabrielle Petito and boyfriend Brian Laundrie left on a cross-country road trip together on July 2. Petito’s mom, Nichole Schmidt, said she last heard from the 22-year-old on Aug. 30.

She was last seen traveling in a white, 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03. Investigators found the van on Sept. 11 at a home in North Port, Florida, where police said Petito lives with Laundrie and his parents. 

The Moab City Police Department in Utah told News Nation they responded to an incident involving Petito and Laundrie on Aug. 12, but neither Petito nor her fiancé had reported the incident.

“Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges,” the department said, but did not disclose any further details.

Police said Laundrie returned to North Port on Sept. 1, 10 days before Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11. However, police said Laundrie has not cooperated with the investigation into Petito’s disappearance.

The North Port Police Department and FBI have taken the lead on the investigation. In a statement on Wednesday, police said the van was processed for evidence and investigators continue to work “around the clock to piece this complex and far-reaching situation together.” 

North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison urged Laundrie to provide helpful information in the case.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Police are also looking into the removal of Petito’s Instagram page.

While initially reluctant to discuss Laundrie, Petito’s family on Tuesday implored him to come forward with more details, saying in a statement that “the one person who can help find Gabby refuses to help.”

“Brian is refusing to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her,” the family, who live on Long Island, said in a statement. “Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida. These are critical questions that require immediate answers.”

The family’s comments were in response to a statement put out by the Laundrie family earlier Tuesday that said they would remain in the background on the advice of counsel.

Police said prior to the last time Petito spoke to her family, they believed she was in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. She is about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads “let it be.”

The FBI set up a national hotline for tips. Detectives are asking anyone with information on Petito’s disappearance to contact 1-800-225-5324. 

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