CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Boyfriend named person of interest in disappearance of van lifer Gabby Petito

Sep 15, 2021, 9:58 AM | Updated: 6:07 pm

missing Utah gabby petito and brian laundrie...

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, as seen in a video posted to their YouTube channel. This is a screen grab of them speaking about their trip to Utah. A Moab investigation has been launched in the city's handling of Petito and Laundrie.

Police in North Port, Florida officially named Brian Laundrie, 23, as a person of interest in the disappearance of his girlfriend, 22-year-old Gabby Petito, on Wednesday.

Tune to KSL NewsRadio for breaking news developments on this story

In a statement posted to Twitter, North Port police wrote that Laundrie has “not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators” or provided any helpful details. 

Petito has not been heard from since late August, as she and Laundrie were traveling in the area of Teton Village, Wyoming. Their prior travels had taken them through Utah’s national parks in a 2012 Ford Transit van.

Boyfriend returned to Florida without Gabby Petito

Police said in their statement that Laundrie returned to North Port, where he and Petito lived with Laundrie’s parents, on Sept. 1, 2021. Petito’s parents did not learn she was missing until 10 days later, on Sept. 11. North Port police said they had no information that a crime had occurred in their jurisdiction.

“The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation,” North Port police chief Todd Garrison said in the statement. “The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance.”

 

During a late-morning press conference, North Port police spokesman Josh Taylor said investigators are operating on the assumption Petito is alive.

“We have to do that for ourselves, but more importantly for the family,” Taylor said. We want them to understand that if she’s out there, we’re doing everything in our power to bring her home but obviously we have a role to plan for the worst.”

Taylor said Laundrie has only provided them the name and phone number of his lawyer in New York.

Laundrie’s attorney explains his silence, Petito’s mother lashes out

On Wenesday, Laundrie’s family attorney, Steven Bertolino reiterated why he told Laundrie not to speak to investigators.  He issued a statement saying Laundrie being named a person of interest doesn’t change the fact that his client will remain the focus of the investigation.  Yahoo! News quotes the statement as saying, “Mr. Laundrie will continue to remain silent on the advice of counsel.”  The statement reads…

“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.”

Petito’s mother,  Nicole Schmidt, released another scathing statement on Wednesday about Laundrie and his refusal to help investigators.  She aimed her works directly at Laundrie, saying he was selfishly sitting in the comfort of his own home while her daughter was left alone in the wilderness.  It reads, in part…

“Brian, how could you do this to Gabby?  You selfishly remain silent while Gabby is all alone in the wilderness.

“Brian, you silence is reprehensible!  We beg you to do the right thing and help us bring Gabby home.”

Contact with Moab Police

Also on Tuesday night, police in Moab, Utah confirmed to KSL they were contacted on August 12, 2021 regarding an “incident” involving Laundrie and Petito which was reported by a third party.

“Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges,” Moab police chief Bret Edge said in an email.

KSL is seeking a copy of the police report from the August 12 incident via Utah’s open records law. North Port police said in their press conference they hoped to obtain the same report from Moab police on Wednesday.

In a related event, Petito’s Instagram briefly went offline on Wednesday morning. A Facebook company spokesperson later confirmed the account was removed in error and has since been reinstated.

The FBI has established a hotline and is actively seeking tips in the Petito case. The hotline number is 1-800-CALL FBI (225-5324).

 

Contributing: Paul Nelson

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Crime, Police + Courts

A video recorded by Facebook user Larry Jacquez shows the police response following the shooting in...

Jamiel Lynch, CNN     

At least 3 people killed and 2 officers wounded in a shooting in Farmington, New Mexico, police say

Multiple people were shot and at least three killed in a shooting in Farmington, New Mexico, police said in a Facebook post.

10 months ago

slcpd on the scene of the deaths...

Josh Ellis

Police: Teen killed by father in murder-suicide in SLC office building

Police responded to the office complex near 3000 S. Highland Drive on Saturday after emergency responders received a call from a community member who reported finding a body.

10 months ago

a police car is pictured...

Mark Jones

SLCPD investigating suspious death, seeks public’s assistance

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City police say a body found Sunday morning in downtown is considered to be a suspicious death. Police were called to the area of 536 S. 200 West just after 11 a.m. Once on scene, officers confirmed the individual, who was found in a field, to be deceased. Information […]

10 months ago

The new Utah State Correctional Facility is pictured in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 30, 2022. ...

Mark Jones

State Correctional Facility placed on temporary lockdown

The Utah State Correctional Facility was placed on temporary lockdown Saturday following a fight with several inmates.

10 months ago

The Salt Lake City Police Department is investigating the deaths of two people. Their bodies were f...

Mark Jones

SLCPD investigating after two bodies found inside an office complex

Salt Lake City police are investigating the discovery of two bodies found Saturday inside an office complex near 3000 S. Highland Drive.

10 months ago

Unified police...

Mark Jones

Woman dies in hiking accident in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Unified Police say a 34-year-old woman died Friday following a hiking accident in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

10 months ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...

Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.

Boyfriend named person of interest in disappearance of van lifer Gabby Petito