Gabby Petito is a 22-year-old lifestyle influencer who went missing last week under suspicious circumstances. She is being sought by law enforcement and her family, who are appealing to the public and begging her boyfriend to assist them in finding her.
Petito’s parents say they last heard from their daughter, who lives in Florida, in late August while she was hiking with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, 23, in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. She’d been on a long road trip since July 2, recording her adventures in a camper van for her tens of thousands of Instagram followers.
Petito’s parents and step-parents wrote a letter to the family of her boyfriend. “We haven’t been able to sleep or eat, and our lives are falling apart”. He has returned to Florida. But is refusing to cooperate with the inquiry.
Here’s what we know so far about the case, which is becoming increasingly high-profile.
The family of Gabby Petito reported her missing last Saturday
Petito’s parents, who live in New York, reported her missing on Sept. 11, about two weeks after they last spoke with her over the phone. Petito would go off the radar for a few days at a period while traveling, according to her relatives, but she would always check in after a few days by looking for internet or cellular connection.
Petito’s disappearance is being investigated by police in North Port, Florida, as well as police in Suffolk County, New York, and the FBI. When they first took up the investigation, they indicated they had “no definitive information that a crime took place,” but that the “circumstances are odd.”
Concerns about Petito’s whereabouts rose after her parents and authorities learned that her boyfriend, Laundrie, had returned to the Florida home he shared with Petito and his parents on September 1. According to the police, he arrived in the van without her.
Petito’s mother stated she received a text message from her daughter’s phone two days prior saying, “No service in Yosemite,” referring to the California national park. Petito did not write that text, according to the family and their counsel, for reasons they haven’t revealed.
Petito’s boyfriend is a suspect in the investigation
On Wednesday, police listed Laundrie as a person of interest in the investigation. It was on the claims that he was the last person to see Petito. When Petito went missing on Sunday, authorities possessed the van Laundrie drove home as evidence in the case. When investigators knocked on Laundrie’s door that day, his parents replied and provided them a lawyer’s phone number, according to police.
Petito said on Instagram that she has been dating Laundrie since March 2019. On Instagram and YouTube, Laundrie filmed his trips in the camper van with Petito. In a video he posted on Aug. 19, he shows them in the van driving around Utah and down the coast.
Petito’s parents have already spoken out, claiming that Laundrie and his parents are aware of “where Brian left Gabby.”
The boyfriend is refusing to help the police with their inquiry
Laundrie has not made himself available to detectives and has supplied no helpful information, according to police investigating Petito’s disappearance.
“We share the frustration with the world right now. Two people went on a trip, one returned. And that person who returned [has] not provided us with any information,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said on Thursday.
“He needs to talk to us,” Josh Taylor, a spokesperson for the department, said Wednesday. “We need to know exactly where he was, where she was, their last locations and that the fact that he was back here for 10 days” before Petito’s family reported her missing.
Her family went public with a plea for Laundrie and his parents to start talking.
“Please, if you or your family have any decency left, please, tell us where Gabby is located,” their letter says, adding: “Tell us if we are even looking in the right place. All we want is for Gabby to come home. Please help us make that happen.”
Steven Bertolino, the attorney for the Laundrie family, stated last week that his client is remaining silent on the advice of counsel.
“In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this, and the warning that ‘any statement made will be used against you is true, regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito’s disappearance,” Bertolino said in a statement.
Police recently responded to an altercation between Petito and Laundrie
The Moab City Police Department in Utah released body camera footage of an encounter between Petito and Laundrie on Aug. 12 while the couple was passing through the region on Thursday.
Gabby Petito tells cops she has been battling with her mental health and with her boyfriend while living in the van’s tight accommodations. The tape shows policemen attempting to calm her down. Petito claims Laundrie locked her out of the van in the video, and police interview her about slapping Laundrie.
Petito grew “manic” in her fear of being stranded in the desert during their road journey, Laundrie told investigators that day. Both declined to press charges. But consented to be separated for the night at the cops’ request so that they could both relax.
Officers dubbed the incident a “mental/emotional break” in the police report.
What can the public do to help to find Gabby Petito?
Petito’s parents advised that people keep an eye out for her on hiking trails. She is 22 years old, white, 5’5″ tall, 110 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. She also has various tattoos. Including a triangle with flowers on her left arm and the phrase “let it be” on her right forearm.
Anyone with knowledge is encouraged to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).
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