(Meredith) – Authorities are searching for a 22-year-old woman after her fiancé returned home from a cross-country trip without her.
Gabby Petito from Blue Point, Long Island, New York was last seen on Aug. 24 when she checked out of a hotel in Salt Lake City with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23.
Petito and Laundrie have been together for two and a half years (since March 2019) and were living together in North Port, Florida with Laundrie's parents. In an Instagram post July 2, 2020, Petito said that Laundrie asked her to marry him and she said yes.
The couple was traveling across the US in a van, documenting their experience on a YouTube channel called Nomadic Statik. They embarked on the trip in early July 2021 and it was scheduled to end in Portland, Oregon in October.
In a YouTube video posted Aug. 19 titled "VAN LIFE | Beginning Our Van Life Journey," the description reads:
“A glimpse into our van adventures! After our first cross country trip in a little Nissan Sentra, we both decided we to wanted downsize our lives and travel full time, but trying to fit everything for two people into the tiny little trunk of the car, also spending way too much on gas, food, and airbnb, was not the road to take. We quickly realized we had to come up with a solution if we wanted to continue traveling and living nomadically, so that's why we handcrafted our own tiny van, a simple 2012 Ford transit connect, utilizing space with unique designs and features. Creating a space for both artistic expression and distance hiking. Thank you so much for watching, and we hope you tag along on our journey wherever the van takes us! Follow our van life journey for some awesome van life ideas, tips, hacks, camping spots, and so many beautiful places to travel!”
Petito’s mother Nicole Schmidt told CBS News that she would FaceTime her daughter usually three times a week. She received the last text messages from her daughter’s phone on Aug. 30, but said she isn’t positive the texts were from her daughter.
“I don’t know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text. I didn’t verbally speak to her,” Schmidt told CBS News.
After a few days without hearing from her daughter, Schmidt said she figured Petito was in an area without cell service. But after more than a week had passed without hearing from Petito, Schmidt became worried and contacted police. Petito was officially reported missing Sept. 11.
Laundrie returned to the couple’s Florida home without Petito on Sept. 1 -- 10 days before she was reported missing. Authorities have called the circumstances “odd.”
Police have seized the couple’s 2012 Ford Transit van that they were traveling in, and it will be processed by the FBI. Officials are searching for Petito in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, what is thought to be her last known location.
North Port Police said in a tweet that Laundrie has "not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details." Laundrie is now considered a person of interest.
Petito's family attorney said in a statement that "Brian is refusing to tell Gabby's family where he last saw her. Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida."
Police confirmed to Fox News that officers responded to an incident involving the couple on Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah, but that neither Petito or Laundrie were the reporting party. Officers conducted an investigation and determined that “insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.” Police did not elaborate further on the incident.
Laundrie's attorney Steve Bertolino issued a statement Tues., Sept. 14 that reads:
"This is an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family. I understand that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family. On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment."
Schmidt said in a news conference Sept. 13 that she had concerns about her daughter going on a road trip, but she felt that Petito would be safe because the couple had a plan and itinerary.
A GoFundMe page was set up by a family friend to help pay for costs of the investigation.
Petito is described as a white female, approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and a triangle tattoo on her left arm, two finger tattoos, and one on her forearm that reads “let it be.” She also has a belly button piercing.
Anyone with information on Petito’s disappearance is asked to call 1-800-CALLFBI (1-800-225-5324).
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
July 2: Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie begin their cross-country trip in their 2012 Ford Transit van, leaving from New York.
Aug. 12: Police respond to an "incident" involving Petito and Laundrie in Moab, Utah, but no charges are filed.
Aug. 19: A YouTube video titled “VAN LIFE | Beginning Our Van Life Journey” is posted to the couple’s YouTube page, Nomadic Statik.
Aug. 24: Petito was last seen checking out of a hotel with Laundrie in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Aug. 25: Petito makes her last post on Instagram. Petito has her last verbal conversation with her mom over the phone.
Aug. 30: Petito's mom receives the last text message from her daughter's phone, but says she doesn't "know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text."
Sept. 1: Laundrie returns home to North Port, Florida without Petito.
Sept. 11: Petito is reported missing by her family. Police seize the 2012 Ford Transit van from the home.
Sept. 15: Laundrie is described as a "person of interest." Police say he has not cooperated with them, nor provided any helpful details.