As police continue to search for Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, who did not return home after a cross-country trip in August, investigators say her fiancé and those around him are withholding important information.
“I believe Brian has the information,” said Todd Garrison, chief of the North Port Police Department in Florida, of Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundry, at a news conference on Thursday.
No charges have been filed in the missing persons case, and police are calling the 23-year-old Laundry after she went back to the couple’s residence in Florida on Sept.
“I believe the people around Brian may also have information and we are urging those people to come forward,” he said. “Give us the information we need to find Gabby.”
Petito, 22, was last seen in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park on August 30, police in three states say.
The couple were sharing photos and videos of their trip on social media, and police body camera videos showed an argument between the couple before Pettito went missing.
Laundry declined to speak with officers when the van was seized at his home in North Port, Florida, and a lawyer was hired instead.
“The fact that his vehicle is back in North Port is likely the last person who would have been with him and is not speaking to us,” said North Port Police Communications Manager Josh Taylor.
Let us know about this matter.
Bodycam footage:After an emotional fight between Gabby Petito and fiancé in Utah
Who is Gabby Petito?
Petito, an aspirant blogger and YouTuber, has garnered widespread media attention since his disappearance.
A delightful viral video titled “Beginning Our One Life Journey” On her YouTube channel, called Nomad Statik has been shared around the world showing young couples kissing, eating granola and yogurt snacks and doing cartwheels on the beach during their cross country trip.
In the description of the video, Petito wrote how the two designed a small van to help them in their quest to “live nomadic”.
Petito is described as a white female, about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that read “Let it be.”
Who is Brian Laundry?
Laundry and Petio are about to get married. They are childhood sweethearts and moved from Blue Point, New York in 2019 to live with their parents in North Port.
Police say the laundry is enforcing its Fifth Amendment prohibition of speaking.
His attorney, Steven Bertolino, said he advised Laundry not to speak.
“Many are wondering why Mr. Laundry will not make a statement or speak with law enforcement in Ms. Petito’s absence,” Bertolino said in a statement. “In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement turns their attention to in cases like this and the warning that ‘any statement will be used against you’ is true, even though my client’s response to Ms. Has anything to do with it or not. Pettito’s disappearance. So Mr. Laundry is not speaking on the matter on the advice of a lawyer.”
Police had investigated the fight between the couple in Utah
In August, police investigated an argument between the couple after a witness reported a possible domestic violence situation.
Body camera footage released Thursday shows the officer in Moab, Utah, responding along a highway near Arches National Park.
Laundry told an officer that Petito had slapped her and that they had been having an altercation for several days. The official wrote that the two had been traveling together for several months, and the closeness created an “emotional tension” and led to more arguments.
“It was just a tussle,” Laundry said in the video. “Sorry, had to make it so public.”
Laundry told an officer that she and Petito both suffered from the same mental health problem. The police report redacted specific information on the situation.
Officers in the video tell the couple to sleep in separate places for the night so that they can “correct their mental state without interference from each other.”
“I do not believe the situation has escalated to the level of a domestic assault, as much as a mental health crisis,” the official concluded in the report.
Pettito’s family pleads for help in the search
Gabby Pettito’s father, Joe, asked Thursday for information that could help locate his daughter.
“I am asking everyone at home for help,” he said at a news conference. “I’m asking for help from Brian’s parents, and I’m asking for help from family members and friends of the laundry family.”
Petito’s stepfather, James Schmidt, told CNN-affiliated Court TV that there has been no communication between the Petito and laundry families.
“This is the love of your life,” he told the news station, addressing the laundry and requesting him to speak to the authorities. “It’s out on social media. You’ve posted on your accounts. If it’s true, do the right thing. You need to do it now. Stop waiting.”
“I’m asking for all the help you can do to get my daughter home,” Petito’s father said on Thursday. “Nothing matters to me anymore.”
Anyone with information can contact us through the national hotline to receive suggestions at 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).
Contributions: Patricia McKnight, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; Michael James, USA Today