Gabby Petito case: What we know about the 22-year-old’s disappearance


Gabby Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11. (Source: Suffolk County Police Department)

(NEXSTAR) — An urgent search is on across multiple states to find Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old who went missing while on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend. The boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, has been named a person of interest in the investigation but has not been arrested or charged.

Here’s what we know about Petito’s disappearance and the search for her so far.

What do we know about the road trip?

According to police, Petito and Laundrie started their cross-country road trip in July in Long Island, New York.

A video posted to YouTube shows highlights from the couple’s travels. They can be seen posing for photos along the California coast, driving their van through salt flats in Utah and visiting national parks along the way.

“After our first cross country trip in a little Nissan Sentra, we both decided we to wanted downsize our lives and travel full time,” the YouTube caption reads. The Nissan was a bit small for full-time travel, the caption explains, so the couple outfitted a 2012 Ford Transit Connect to help them “continue traveling and living nomadically.”

The video appears to include clips from both road trips. The West Coast videos are likely from the couple’s first road trip earlier this year (also documented on Instagram), while the clips in and around Utah appear to be from the summer 2021 trip in the van.

When and where was Gabby Petito last seen?

Petito’s family said the last time they heard from her was the last week of August. They said she was visiting Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Her last Instagram post was on Aug. 25.

It wasn’t unusual for her to be off the grid or away from phone reception for a few days, but when they still hadn’t heard from her by September, the family contacted police. They reported her missing on Sept. 11.

What happened in Utah?

On Wednesday, NewsNation affiliate KTVX obtained a copy of a police report filed on Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah. Moab is near the entrances of Arches and Canyonlands national parks, so is popular with travelers visitnig the parks.

According to the police report, officers were called to the scene of a grocery store in town because of a domestic dispute where a “male had been observed to have assaulted the female.” The couple, Laundrie and Petito, reportedly left the grocery store in their van and headed to Arches National Park. Officers caught up with their van near the entrance.

While the officers were following the van, they say it was going 45 mph in a 15 mph zone and was swerving in and out of the lane. Then the van hit a curb and the driver pulled over.

Officers say when they stopped the van, they found Petito crying “uncontrollably.” Through tears, officers said Petito explained the couple had been having “little arguments” all day and she was struggling with her mental health. Laundrie reportedly told police they had been traveling together for months, which was causing tension in the relationship.

Petito explained the erratic driving was because she had seen officers behind them, so she hit Laundrie’s arm and caused him to swerve and hit a curb.

The couple eventually told officers they both didn’t want to press charges. Moab Police determined the incident was not a domestic assault.

Police said the couple decided to stay apart for a night; Petito reportedly kept the van and Laundrie found lodging elsewhere.

Where is Brian Laundrie, Petito’s boyfriend?

Laundrie is back home with his parents in North Port, Florida. Though the couple started their road trip in New York, their families both live in Florida.

The couple’s van was also found at his parent’s house. Police had it towed from the house to be processed as evidence.

Laundrie has been named a person of interest, but as of Wednesday, was not named a suspect and had not been arrested or charged with any crime.

What are Petito and Laundrie’s families saying?

Petito’s family is asking for the public’s help to find their daughter, and claims Laundrie is not cooperating with the investigation.

“The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives,” the families of Petito’s mother and father said in a statement Tuesday. “Their beautiful 22-year-old daughter is missing, and the one person that can help find Gabby refuses to help.”

In the statement, Petito’s parents say Laundrie won’t speak about where he last saw her and is “refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida.”

An attorney for Laundrie’s family also released a statement Tuesday saying the family would be “remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”

“It is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family,” the statement from his family.

Who is running the investigation?

The investigation involves multiple local police agencies, the National Park Service and the FBI.

The FBI asks anyone with knowledge of Petito’s whereabouts or other relevant information that may be helpful to call 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).

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