CRIME, POLICE + COURTS
Campsite planning app offers new clues in case of missing woman Gabby Petito
Sep 16, 2021, 8:22 PM | Updated: Sep 17, 2021, 9:10 am
A popular campsite planning app is providing new clues about the travels of a missing woman, Gabby Petito, before she disappeared.
Related: Moab police describe fight between woman — now missing — and boyfriend
KSL’s COLD podcast team has learned Petito, 22, used an app called The Dyrt to plan her cross-country road trip with boyfriend Brian Laundrie. Her public account on The Dyrt provides insight into the likely route the couple intended to take prior to Petito’s unsolved disappearance.
Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11, 2021 after losing touch with her for several days. Police subsequently learned Laundrie, 23, had returned to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida on Sept. 1, 2021 with the van but without Petito. Gabby Petito’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
North Port police have said Laundrie declined to speak with them, referring questions to his attorney. Laundrie has made no public statements about the case and police have labeled Laundrie a “person of interest.”
The Dyrt on Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie had set out for a “van life” adventure earlier in the summer. It appears Petito used The Dyrt app to research, select and review campsites where she and Laundrie, 23, could park their Ford Transit van during the cross-country adventure.
A review of Petito’s account by the COLD podcast team revealed several “lists” where she saved references to dispersed camping areas across Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Petito also wrote reviews after camping at some of those sites.
“Stopped here to enjoy some more of the storm out in a more private and secluded spot, but not too secluded, there are plenty of spots but there’s also lots of trees,” Petito wrote about one site near Bryce Canyon National Park. “Bumpy gravel road to get in but it’s not bad if you make it in the daylight. Also good service so I was able to work from my computer.”
The lists on Petito’s account bear labels including “Colorado,” “Utah,” “craters to Teton,” “near Yellowstone,” “from Yellowstone to Glacier” and “to Washington.” The “Utah” list includes 32 locations, far more than any of the other lists.
Petito’s social media accounts confirm she visited many of the Utah locations marked in her “Utah” list in The Dyrt app.
View this post on Instagram
Gabby’s marks around Moab
One of Petito’s reviews on The Dyrt was for a primitive camping area just east of U.S. Highway 191 in Utah’s Grand County. That location, on the outskirts of Arches National Park, was one of several in the vicinity of Moab, Utah marked by Gabby Petito.
The Moab area is significant in Petito and Laundrie’s travels, as it was the place where they had an encounter with police on Aug. 12. Moab police pulled Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito over near the entrance to Arches National Park after a witness reported seeing a potential domestic violence situation outside the Moonflower Community Co-op.
Police reports and body camera footage show Moab police believed Petito had been the aggressor in the emotional situation. An officer separated the couple overnight, leaving Petito with their van while Laundrie checked in to a hotel.
Coincidence or something more?
The COLD team cannot confirm where Petito camped that night, however her The Dyrt account provides some potential clues. Petito had flagged possible campsites on U.S. 128 along the Colorado River, as well as in the Porcupine Rim area of the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
The Porcupine Rim site sits roughly five miles north of the place where, on Aug. 18, deputies from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office located the bodies of Crystal Turner and Kylen Schulte. Turner and Schulte had been reported missing two days earlier. Investigators determined both had been shot to death.
An unsealed Grand County search warrant affidavit revealed Turner and Schulte had last been seen in Moab on the night of Aug. 13. Schulte reportedly told friends a “creepy man” was in the area of their camp and that if anything happened to them, they’d been murdered.
My source tells me Kylen Schulte was working at Moonflower Coop on Aug. 12.
She was not working at the time of the dispute between Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito. She got off work about an hour an a half before.
No surveillance video available at the store. pic.twitter.com/mdOG7dy6mh
— Morgan Wolfe (@MorganWolfeKSL) September 16, 2021
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office had not publicly identified a suspect in the shooting deaths of Turner and Schulte. The agency confirmed on Thursday it is sharing information from their case with investigators who are looking into Petito’s disappearance. They have not said whether or not their evidence provides anything more than a coincidental connection between the two cases.
Gabby Petito travels from Moab to Jackson
Petito and Laundrie’s moved through northern Utah in late August, on their way to national parks of Wyoming.
On The Dyrt app, Gabby Petito had marked potential camping sites in Utah’s Skull Valley. Petito’s list in the app titled “craters to Teton” suggests she and Laundrie might have visited or planned to visit Craters of the Moon National Monument in southeastern Idaho after leaving Utah.
Items in that list show Petito and Laundrie might also have driven to Palisades Reservoir along the Snake River before entering into southwestern Wyoming en route to Grand Teton National Park. Petito had eyed potential camping spots east of the park, in locations that would afford scenic views of the park’s iconic peaks.
Petito’s last communications with family members are believed to have occurred in this vicinity. She reportedly told her family she was headed from Teton area to Yellowstone National Park shortly before she disappeared.
The Grassy Lake Road site
Gabby Petito’s list on The Dyrt for “near Yellowstone” includes a location in between Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, in the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway. The location sits in a meadow along Glade Creek a little over two miles southeast of Grassy Lake Reservoir.
Here’s the location Gabby pinned in Google Earth. It’s a big river bottom meadow surrounded by conifer forest. pic.twitter.com/Tgkpu26fVV
— Dave Cawley (@ashergrey) September 16, 2021
There are many other primitive camping locations along the unpaved Grassy Lake Road, as well as spur roads leading to remote backcountry destinations in the Targhee National Forest and southwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park.
The next site to the north on Petito’s “near Yellowstone” list is a backcountry campsite, labeled 4R1, within the heart of Yellowstone National Park. Unlike many of the locations Petito had marked on the app, the 4R1 site was not a place where she and Laundrie could have camped out of their van.
Instead, Yellowstone’s 4R1 requires a short hike in from the Canyon Village area of the park. 4R1 sits on Ribbon Lake, near the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. An overnight stay at 4R1 would have required Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie to obtain a permit from the National Park Service. The COLD team cannot confirm whether or not the couple obtained such a permit or hiked in to Ribbon Lake.
Petito’s lists on The Dyrt suggest she’d expected to exit Yellowstone National Park via the park’s west entrance. Her next place mark was the Targhee Creek Trailhead along U.S. Highway 20 east of Henry’s Lake State Park in Idaho.
Yellowstone to Glacier
The remainder of Petito’s listed locations in The Dyrt app suggest she and Laundrie had intended to travel north from the vicinity of West Yellowstone, Montana toward Kalispell, Montana and Glacier National Park. Those included spots along Swan Lake and the North Fork of the Flathead River.
The westernmost location marked by Petito was a campsite on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille east of Spokane, Washington on the Idaho panhandle. The following map shows locations Gabby Petito had marked on her The Dyrt account, as well as a possible travel route between them.
There are no indications Petito or Laundrie actually traveled beyond Yellowstone National Park. Laundrie’s silence has left many unanswered questions about when he and Petito parted ways. The route Laundrie used in driving back to Florida from the Yellowstone region is also unclear.
North Port, Florida police and the FBI have encouraged people who might have seen Laundrie or the 2012 Ford Transit van on or around August 30, 2021 to contact them at 1-800-CallFBI.
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