The family of a missing Florida woman who vanished during a cross-country road trip with her fiance pleaded Thursday for information on the 22-year-old’s whereabouts.
Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito’s family reported her missing Sept. 11, weeks after they last heard from her at the end of August, while she was visiting Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Police said Petito contacted family members regularly until then. Petito and her fiance, Brian Laundrie, had been traveling the country since July in a converted Fort Transit camper van, according to The Associated Press.
Laundrie drove the van back to the Florida home he shared with Petito and his parents on Sept. 1, police in North Port, Florida, said. Petito was not with him. He has declined since to speak with investigators, who say that he is a person of interest in the case.
In a letter shared Thursday by the Petito family’s attorney, Richard Stafford, family members said they believe Laundrie’s parents know “where Brian left Gabby” and begged for more information.
“We understand you are going through a difficult time and your instinct to protect your son is strong,” the family wrote. “We ask you to put yourselves in our shoes. We haven’t been able to sleep or eat and our lives are falling apart.”
North Port police Chief Todd Garrison expressed frustration Thursday over the lack of cooperation from Laundrie.
“Two people went on a trip, one person returned, and that person that returned isn’t providing us any information,” he said at a news conference.
Gabby Petito’s father, Joe Petito, also pleaded for information at the news conference, saying that, “Whatever you can do to make sure my daughter comes home, I’m asking for this help.”
“I’m asking for help from everyone here. I’m asking for help from everyone at home,” he said. I’m asking for help from the parents of Brian and I’m asking for help of the family and friends of the Laundrie family as well.”
Police in Moab, Utah, released footage Thursday taken from a body camera during an Aug. 12 encounter with Laundrie and Gabby Petito near the Arches National Park. Gabby Petito appeared emotional after the couple fought over what she described as “personal issues.”
“I don’t know, some days I have really bad (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and I was just cleaning and straightening up the back of the van before,” Gabby Petito says in the video, obtained by KSTU. “I was apologizing to him and saying I’m sorry that I’m so mean because sometimes I have OCD, and sometimes I just get really frustrated.”
In the video, Laundrie says the couple got into a minor scuffle that began when he climbed into the van with dirty feet. He added that he didn’t want to pursue a domestic violence charge against Gabby Petito, whom officers decided was the aggressor.
“I’m not going to pursue anything because she is my fiancee and I love her,” Laundrie says. “It was just a squabble. Sorry it had to get so public.”
Moab police ultimately decided not file any charges and instead separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking into a motel and Gabby Petito remaining with the converted sleeper van.
Police emphasized Thursday that the case remains a missing persons investigation. Authorities continue to investigate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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