Update: Boyfriend of woman last seen in mountain west named as person of interest

Gabrielle Petito and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. Photo: Instagram/Gabrielle Petito

UTAH, Sept. 15, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The boyfriend of missing Long Island woman Gabrielle Petito has been named a person of interest in the investigation, officials announced Wednesday morning.

Petito, 22, was reported missing after traveling with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie to Utah and Wyoming.

Petito, who posted Instagram photos of her trips through Utah, Wyoming and other states, was last heard from in late August. Laundrie has since returned to his family’s home with the van he and Petito used in their extended travels and is not cooperating with police.

Due to the parties in this case residing in North Port, Florida, the North Port Police Department is the primary investigating agency, in partnership with the FBI.

“We have no information that a crime occurred here in North Port,” said a news release from North Port Police Department on Wednesday morning. “Brian Laundrie is a person of interest in this case.”

The news release added: “Several detectives are working around the clock to piece this complex and far-reaching situation together. Gabrielle’s vehicle was recovered here in North Port at her home on Sept. 11. A home shared with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie and his parents. That vehicle was fully processed for evidence along with FBI agents Tuesday evening. As of now, Brian has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details.”

The news release added that officials know Laundrie returned to North Port on Sept. 1, 10 days before Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11.

North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said: “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. 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.”

According to family, they were last in contact with Petito during the last week of August, the news release said. Prior to the last communication, she was believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Petito and Laundrie were traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03.

Moab Police Chief Bret Edge confirmed to Gephardt Daily on Tuesday evening that officers responded to an incident involving Petito and Laundrie last month.

Edge told us that officers did respond to an incident involving Laundrie and Petito on Aug. 12.

“Neither Brian or Gabrielle were the reporting party,” Edge said. “Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.”

Edge was not able to provide further details of the incident.

Earlier Tuesday, an attorney hired by the family of Laundrie released a statement.

“This is understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family,” the attorney’s statement said. “It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

“On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family. On the advice of counsel the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Petito’s parents released a statement urging Laundrie to tell the family where he was last with her.

“The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives. Their beautiful 22-year-old daughter is missing and the one person who can help find Gabby refuses to help. Brian Laundrie was traveling with Gabby in the Grand Teton-Yellowstone area. They were traveling together in Gabby’s 2012 Ford Transit van. This is where we believe Gabby was last seen.

“Brian is refusing to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her. 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 Schmidt and Petito family beg the Laundrie family to ‘not remain in the background’ but to find who Brian referred to as the love of his life. How does Brian stay in the background when he is the last person who knows where Gabby is located?

“The Schmidt and Petito family implore Brian to come forward and at least tell us if we are looking in the right area.”

The family released a new statement Wednesday morning: “Everyday the search for Gabby continues the Schmidt and Petito family becomes more desperate. They are frantically searching for answers and information in their daughter’s disappearance while Brian sits in the comfort of his home. Brian claims he wants to sit in the background while we search for Gabby in the wilderness of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

“Brian left Gabby in the wilderness with grizzly bears and wolves while he sits in the comfort of his home. In his home! Brian, how could you do this to Gabby? You selfishly remain silent while Gabby is all alone in the wilderness. Brian, your silence is reprehensible! We beg you to do the right thing and help us bring Gabby home. Brian, whatever happened in Wyoming, happened. The only thing you can control is what you do now. Tell us where Gabby is. You tarnish your love for her with your silence.”

Petito chronicled her extended travels in YouTube videos, like the one below:

Petito is Caucasian, approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall, and weighs 110 pounds. She has blond hair, blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads “let it be.”

The FBI has set up a national hotline to receive tips: 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).


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