Report: Moab police made ‘mistakes’ in Petito, Laundrie investigation

Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito are shown during a stop by Moab Police following a domestic violence report by a witness. Images: Moab Police

Jan. 13 (UPI) — Moab City police officers in Utah made “several unintentional mistakes” in dealing with Gabby Petito and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie near Arches National Park in August just before her disappearance, according to an independent review.

Petito’s family said they last heard from her in late August while she was traveling with Laundrie.

The couple had been living with Laundrie’s parents in Florida before embarking on a cross-country road trip, when Petito went missing and Laundrie returned to Florida without her.

Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. A Wyoming coroner said she died from strangulation.

Laundrie went missing after authorities named him a person of interest, and his remains were found at a North Port, Fla., park in October.

Moab police came upon the couple Aug. 12 during a domestic violence call.

The report said Moab Police Officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins failed to cite Petito for domestic violence even though she appeared to be the aggressor in the incident.

“The investigative report also finds that a statement was never obtained from the original 911 caller and recommends that be done to make the incident report more complete,” the report said.

“Based on the report’s findings, the City of Moab believes our officers showed kindness, respect and empathy in their handling of this incident. As the Moab City Police Department continues its daily mission to serve our community, efforts are underway to provide additional resources and tools to assist in addressing domestic violence incidents.”

The officers separated the couple for the night with Petito staying in the couple’s van and Laundrie in a motel. They were allowed to come back together and continue their trip the next day.

The report also declined to speculate on whether the later outcome of what happened to Petito and Laundrie would have been different if officers had taken additional action.

“There are many ‘what-if’s’ that have presented itself as part of this investigation, the primary one being: Would Gabby be alive today if this case was handled differently? That is an impossible question to answer despite it being the answer many people want to know,” the report said.

“Nobody knows and nobody will ever know the answer to that question. My job is to provide information into the details of this investigation and if it was handled appropriately.”


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