Missing woman’s boyfriend is ‘person of interest’ after returning from road trip without her, police say

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:41 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 1:03 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NORTH PORT, Fla. (Gray News) - Police investigating a woman’s disappearance said her boyfriend is a “person of interest” after he returned alone from a cross-country trip they took together.

North Port police said in a Facebook post Wednesday that 22-year-old Gabrielle Petito’s family reported her missing Saturday, 10 days after Brian Laundrie returned home.

Police said Laundrie had not made himself available to be interviewed or provided any helpful details.

“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through,” said North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison in the post. “We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks. The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance.”

Petito’s vehicle was in North Port and searched for evidence, police said.

Investigators are growing increasingly concerned about Petito’s well-being. Originally from Blue Point, N.Y., she hasn’t been seen since Aug. 25, when she Facetimed with her mother from Wyoming.

She is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming just before the call with family. The two were traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03.

Petito was described as approximately 5-feet-5 and 110 pounds, with blonde hair, blue eyes and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads “let it be.”

“We’re all hopeful that she’ll be back home. But certainly, there are a lot of signs that, certainly, have you concerned for her well-being,” said Josh Taylor, North Port police public information officer.

Petito has been living with her boyfriend in North Port for nearly three years.

“Certainly, our investigation into the disappearance of Gabby, leads us to, to want to speak with him, but we have not spoken with Brian directly at this point. I think most people would find that very odd,” Taylor said.

Laundrie’s attorney, who is located on Long Island, released a statement saying in part: “It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”

“I hope that everybody’s looking for her,” said Nicole Schmidt, Gabby Petito’s mother. Her mother and stepfather pleaded with the public Monday to keep an eye out for her.

Taylor said any information from the public is helpful as the FBI searched the van for physical evidence and as they try to retrace Petito’s last known steps “using digital evidence, whether it be through cell phone data or financials, or even something as simple as a toll booth license plate.”

Copyright 2021 Gray Media Group, Inc. NEWS 12 LONG ISLAND via CNN Newsource contributed to the report. All rights reserved.