MOAB, Utah, Sept. 27, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge has requested leave following the controversy over the department’s handling of a domestic violence call last month involving murder victim Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie.
Edge requested time off through the Family Medical Leave Act on Monday, Lisa Church, the Moab’s communication manager told Gephardt Daily. It is not known if the request is in any way connected to the incident involving Petito and Laundrie.
Church said no other details will be released at this time; it is not known when Edge will return to the department.
Laundrie, 23, has been named a person of interest in Petito’s murder. The couple, who shared a home with Laundrie’s parents in Florida, had been traveling across the western U.S., including stops in Utah, before Gabby’s disappearance near the end of August.
Petito, 22, was reported missing on Sept. 11. Laundrie returned home on Sept. 1, to the North Port, Florida, residence they shared with his family, driving Petito’s van, but without Gabby.
He declined to cooperate with authorities, as did his parents, although on Sept 17. they relented and told investigators Brian had gone missing on Tuesday, Sept. 14. and may have been headed to a nearby nature reserve where police have been searching for days.
On Sept. 19, FBI agents found the remains believed to be Petito’s in an area where the couple had been camping in Grand Teton National Park. Two days later, the FBI confirmed the human remains were those of the missing woman, and her manner of death was homicide. The cause of death has not yet been released.
It was announced on Sept. 23 that the city of Moab had launched an investigation into the Moab City Police Department’s handling of an incident involving Petito and Laundrie on Aug. 12.
Moab City said in a statement the police department has received both praise and criticism for “their response and their resolution of the incident involving Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie.”
A bystander called 911 to report a possible domestic dispute involving the pair. Moab PD subsequently released body-camera footage and a police report detailing the incident.
The statement added: “The Moab City Police Department has clear standards for officer conduct during a possible domestic dispute and our officers are trained to follow those standards and protocol. At this time, the city of Moab is unaware of any breach of police department policy during this incident. However, the city will conduct a formal investigation and, based on the results, will take any next steps that may be appropriate.”
The statement went on to say: “We understand that individuals can view the same situation in very different ways, and we recognize how the death of Ms. Petito more than two weeks later in Wyoming might lead to speculation, in hindsight, about actions taken during the incident in Moab. The purpose of the city’s formal investigation is to gather the underlying facts and evidence necessary to make a thorough, informed evaluation of such actions.”
The police department will make all information from the Petito incident available to agencies investigating her death, and officers will also be available to answer any questions, the statement said.
The Petito case comes just weeks after murder of newlywed couple Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner in a campground outside of Moab.
Schulte, 24, and Turner, who was 38 and sometimes went by the surname Beck, were shot to death sometime between Aug. 13 and 18.
The women were last seen on Aug. 13, leaving Woody’s Bar in Moab between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Their bodies were found on Aug. 18 south of Moab, in the South Mesa area of the La Sal Mountains. The Grand County Sheriff’s Office is managing that investigation.
There was widespread speculation of a possible connection between Petito’s case and that of the murdered couple. While the Grand County Sheriff’s Office initially said it “wasn’t ruling anything out,” it later released a statement saying the cases were unrelated.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is made available.