The nationwide search continues for Gabrielle Petito — a 22-year-old who went missing during a cross country road trip with her fiancé.
“What I need from everyone here is help,” Petito’s father said during a news conference Thursday afternoon. “The goal is to bring Gabby home safely. I’m asking for help from everyone here. I’m asking for help from everyone at home ... Whatever you can do to make sure my daughter can come home, I’m asking for that help.”
Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie left North Port, Florida, in June to travel across the west coast, with plans to visit state national parks and the western United States, police said. The couple documented their #VanLife journey on social media and posted a Youtube video detailing their travels on Aug. 19.
But by the end of August, Petito “abruptly” stopped speaking with her family, according to police. She was last known to be in Wyoming.
On Sept. 1, police say Laundrie returned home to Florida in Petito’s van — without her. Ten days later, on Sept. 11, Petito’s family reported her missing.
Police noted that Laundrie is a “person of interest” but have not been able to speak with him.
“Two people went on a trip and one person returned and that person who returned isn’t providing us any information,” said North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison during Thursday’s news conference.
North Port police are handling the investigation.
Here’s what else we know so far:
Petito’s van found at the couple’s North Port home
Petito and Laundrie were traveling across the country in her white 2012 Ford Transit van, police said. Detectives found her van at the couple’s North Port home, where they live with Laundrie’s parents.
Police say they are analyzing items from the van. Additional details were not immediately available.
The FBI, which is assisting in the investigation, is asking anyone who has potential sightings, photos, videos or any other information on where Petito is or what happened to her to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or online at tips.fbi.gov. You can remain anonymous.
Petito family, police chief frustrated over Laundrie’s silence
Garrison says they know Laundrie’s current location but that he has declined to speak with investigators, citing his constitutional rights, and has retained an attorney. His lawyer did provide some property that police requested.
Laundrie’s attorney Steven Bertolino has said in a statement to multiple news outlets that Laundrie has chosen to remain silent on the advice of his counsel.
The response has frustrated Petito’s family and Garrison. On Wednesday, the police chief tweeted at Bertolino asking him to “arrange a conversation” with Laundrie.
“Where’s Gabby?” Garrison asked during Thursday’s news conference.
Mr. Steven Bertolino, esq. the @NorthPortPolice needs your help in finding Gabby Petito. Please call us to arrange a conversation with Brian Laundrie. Two people left on a trip and one person returned! #wheresgabby #FindGabby #fbitampa #gabbypetito https://t.co/4OaCk5eCjU
— Chief Todd Garrison (@NPPDPoliceChief) September 15, 2021
Petito’s last known location was Grand Teton National Park
The FBI says the couple visited national parks in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Petito was last known to be in the area of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt told Fox News Sunday that the couple was at Grand Teton on Aug. 25 and were planning to visit Yellowstone National Park.
Aug. 25 is also the last day Petito posted on Instagram. The photo shows her posing in front of a butterfly mural with a knitted pumpkin. The caption says “Happy Halloween.”
“I don’t know if she left Grand Teton or not,” Schmidt told Fox News on Sunday. “I did receive a text from her on the 27th and the 30th, but I don’t know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text. I didn’t verbally speak to her.”
Petito’s last text to her mom: “No service in Yosemite.”
Richard Stafford, the Petito’s family attorney, told Insider on Wednesday that Schmidt doesn’t believe the message was sent by Petito.
Garrison, the North Port police chief, said they are working with the FBI and other law enforcement partners across the country to follow up on tips and leads but that no on-the-ground search teams have begun yet because officials are still trying to narrow down a search area.
The couple fought in Utah. Police recorded the aftermath
More than an hour of police bodycam video from the Moab City Police Department shows officers pulling the couple over near Arches National Park on Aug. 12 to investigate reports of a “domestic problem” that had taken place near a grocery store called Moonflower Co-op.
The officers speak individually with Laundrie and an emotional Petito, who said they were arguing all morning and that she has a lot of anxiety.
A witness, identified only as Christopher, told police he saw Petito slap Laundrie and get pushed away during an argument outside of the grocery store before climbing into the van through the driver’s window as if Laundrie had locked her out, according to an incident report.
Laundrie told officers he was trying to lock the van so she could take a walk and they could both calm down.
The incident was labeled a disorderly conduct, with a police officer writing in the report that the situation did not escalate to the “level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis.”
Police helped Laundrie find a hotel to stay in while Petito stayed in the van. The officers told them to take some time apart to “relax their emotions” and to avoid contacting each other until the next morning, if possible, according to the incident report.
That same day, Petito posted photos on Instagram at Arches National Park. It’s not clear if the photos were posted before or after their argument.
Police say it is still a missing person case
There are news reports circulating that Utah investigators have not ruled out a potential connection between Petito’s disappearance and the double-homicide of a newlywed couple that occurred in the campgrounds around Moab.
There is speculation because of the timing of the incidents and because one of the newlyweds also worked at Moonflower, the grocery store which served as the backdrop of Petito and Laundrie’s argument.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to KTVX-TV, an ABC affiliated TV station in Utah, on Thursday that they are “actively looking” into any connection between the Gabby Petito missing person case and the double homicide and that they are “not ruling anything out at this time.”
However, Garrison on Thursday reaffirmed that police are still treating Petito’s disappearance as a missing person case and that they have found no evidence of criminality at this time.