Police in Florida said the disappearance of a 22-year-old woman is still being investigated as a missing person case and called on the public to provide any information that might help them bring the woman home safe. Gabby Petito was reported missing on September 11 by her family after her fiancé returned home to Florida alone from a cross-country road trip.
Todd Garrison, the police chief in North Port, said no criminality is suspected at this time. No physical search teams are currently on the ground as investigators are working to narrow down areas to investigate. “We have resources and law enforcement partners that are out in the field following up tips and leads but as far as a grid search right now, we’re still trying to narrow down geographic areas,” he said in a news conference Thursday.
Police have said her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, has refused to speak with law enforcement but Garrison said investigators are solely focused on finding Petito. “We share the frustration with the world right now. Two people went on a trip, one person returned and that person that returned isn’t providing us with any information,” Garrison said. “My focus isn’t to bring Brian in right now. My focus is to find Gabby.”
Her father, Joe Petito, asked the public to come forward with any information that could help investigators. “I’m asking for help from the parents of Brian and I’m asking for the help of the family members and friends of the Laundrie family as well,” he said. “Whatever you can do to make sure my daughter comes home, I’m asking for that help. There is nothing else that matters to me now.”
Petito was last seen on August 24 checking out of a Salt Lake City hotel with Laundrie. She is last believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Police have seized the 2012 Ford Transit van that the couple was traveling in.
Police in Moab, Utah, released a police report and body camera footage of officers responding to an incident involving the couple on August 12. Officers responded to a reported domestic assault but concluded there were no significant injuries reported and it was more accurately categorized as a “mental health break” than a domestic assault, according to a police report.
Laundrie told police he and Petito both suffered from a mental condition that they do not take medication for, the report said. Police determined the altercation did not rise to the level of domestic assault, and Laundrie and Petito were told to separate for the night, the report said. Laundrie was given a hotel room.
In the Thursday news conference, Garrison said police reviewed the couple’s run-in with law enforcement. “Yes, they had a disturbance. Yes, it was captured on body camera of their interaction with law enforcement,” Garrison said. “But beyond that, I don’t know what it has to do with the disappearance.”
Later Thursday, attorney Richard Stafford, who represents Petito’s family, said investigators t0ld the family not to publicly discuss the body camera footage of the fight or other aspects of Petito and Laundrie’s relationship during the investigation.
“The family is not gonna discuss any facts or anything to do with the relationship between Gabby and Brian. They were asked by the FBI to not discuss that,” Stafford said in a separate news conference. ” I just hope everyone pulls together to help find Gabby. And again, for what I’ve been seeing for the last few days, it appears everyone is doing that except Brian and his family.”
Her parents wrote a letter addressed to the Laundrie family. Stafford read it at the news conference. “We understand you are going through a difficult time and your instinct is strong to protect your son,” the letter read.
“We ask you to put yourselves in our shoes. We haven’t been able to sleep or eat and our lives are falling apart. We believe you know the location of where Brian left Gabby. We beg you to tell us.”