Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie: Who are they and what do we know about their disappearance?

© Instagram/@gabspetito Untitled design.png

On Saturday 11 September, a young woman named Gabby Petito was reported missing by her mother. She had been on a road trip with her boyfriend since July.

So what do we know about the case so far?

Who is Gabby Petito?

Petito is a 22-year old Instagrammer and van-life blogger hailing from Blue Point in Suffolk County, New York.

She reportedly moved to North Port, Florida two years ago with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.

Having been dating since March 2019, the pair got engaged in July 2020, according to Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

In July, she and Laundrie set off on a cross-country road trip in a 2012 Ford van.

Petito had been documenting their journey on social media, but all communication has now stopped, causing concern.

What do we know about her disappearance?

According to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, Petito and Laundrie left for their trip from Petito’s hometown of Blue Point.

Schmidt told KSL: “She wanted to cross the country in the camper van and live the van life and live free. This was her dream.”

The trip was expected to end in Oregon in October, but nobody has heard from Petito since the end of August.

Instagram posts from the couple indicate they had visited Kansas in early July and travelled from there to Colorado.

Their next posts showed them camping at Zion National Park in Utah in mid-July.

View this post on Instagram

Petito’s next post from 21 July showed they were in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah before moving on to Monroe, Utah.

On 31 July, they posted images from Canyonlands National Park, also in Utah. Her next post wouldn’t be until 12 days later.

View this post on Instagram

According to police reports, the couple got into a physical altercation on 12 August – around a week before Petitio was last seen.

Officers from Utah’s Moab Police Department were contacted by a man identifying himself as Christopher, who expressed concern about a possible domestic disturbance.

According to police reports, Petito and Laundrie were stopped by police near Arches National Park.

Petito was said to be “crying uncontrollably” and told officers she had been struggling with her mental health.

Police determined that the pair had had an argument and Laundrie had told Petito to take a walk to calm down, but she refused.

According to the police report: “[Petito] didn’t want to be separated from the male, and began slapping him.

“He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van, he tried to lock her out and succeeded except the driver’s door.

“She opened that and forced her way over him and into the vehicle before it drove off.”

Police officer Daniel Scott Robbins determined: “After evaluating the totality of the circumstances, I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of domestic assault as much of that as a mental health crisis.”

Petito has posted just 4 times on Instagram since August 12. Her last post was on 26 August and she was last heard from by her family on 30 August.

View this post on Instagram

That’s when she texted her mother to say she was heading to Yellowstone National Park and was losing phone signal.

On 11 September, Petito was reported missing by her mother.

The Ford van that the couple were travelling in has been recovered in Florida and Laundrie is alive and well at his parents’ home in Florida.

View this post on Instagram

Laundrie has refused to speak to authorities about the disappearance of his girlfriend and has hired an attorney.

The lawyer representing the Laundrie family told Insider in a statement: “This is understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family.

“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.”

Petito’s family said in a statement through their attorney: “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.”

On 15 September, police named Laundrie as a person of interest in Petitio’s disappearance and confirmed he is still refusing to cooperate with authorities.

North Port police in Florida confirmed that Laundrie had returned to his parent’s house alone on 1 September – ten days before Petito was reported missing.

Petito’s family lawyer called Laundrie “reprehensible” for not helping with the investigation into his girlfriend’s disappearance.

The lawyer said: “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.”

Laundrie’s lawyer reiterated that his client would not be speaking to the police.

They said: “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.

“As such, on the advice of counsel Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter.”

Update – 18 September 2021: North Port Police have said in a statement that they are also now searching for Mr Laundrie, who has not been seen by his family since Tuesday, after their attorney contacted FBI investigators on Friday.

It was the first time the family had spoken with investigators in detail, the police department said, and reiterated that Mr Laundrie is a “person of interest” in relation to Ms Petito’s disappearance and is not wanted for any criminal offence.

“We understand the community’s frustration – we are frustrated too. For six days, the North Port Police Department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian’s fiancée Gabby Petito.

“We are not currently working on a crime investigation. We are now working [on] multiple missing person investigations,” they said.

KNow anything? Please call 1-800-CALL-FBI pic.twitter.com/oCDTwHJvCt

— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 18, 2021

Meanwhile, a TikTok user named Miranda Baker released a video on Friday claiming that she and her boyfriend had given Mr Laundrie a ride to Jackson from Grand Teton National Park, at Colter Bay, on 29 August.

Ms Baker, 22, from Wisconsin, said they were also going to Jackson that same evening, and picked him up at 5:30pm local time. They were offered $200 from Laundrie for the trip.

“So that was kind of weird. He then told us he’s been camping for multiple days without his fiancée – he did say he had a fiancée – and that she was working on their social media page back at their van.

“Then … in conversation, I brought up ‘we’re going to Jackson’, he freaked out. He was like, ‘nope, I need to get out right now, pull over’,” she said.

Ms Baker went on to add that they dropped him off at 6:09pm at the Jackson Dam, close to Colter Bay. She claimed that he said he would “find someone else to go hitchhike”.

A spokesperson for North Port Police Department confirmed to The Independent that they have spoken to Ms Baker about the reported interaction.

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