NORTH PORT, Fla .– Police are looking for a North Port woman from New York who went missing on a van trip across the country with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.
The Suffolk County Long Island Police Department (SCPD) is investigating the disappearance of Gabrielle Petito, 22, who was reported missing by her family on September 11 just before 7 p.m., according to the SCPD.
The case gained national attention after New York City Police first reported the woman’s disappearance just days ago.
Petito’s disappearance has been shared across the country in Utah, Idaho, New York, Florida and Wyoming as well as nationally.
Utah police have confirmed responding to an incident involving Laundrie and Petito on August 12, about a month before she went missing. Neither Laundrie nor Petito was the declaring party.
Utah agents investigated the incident and determined that there was not “sufficient evidence” for criminal charges. They did not confirm the origin of the incident.
All eyes are now on North Port, Florida, where the van in which the couple was traveling and the young woman’s boyfriend were found.
Police said the couple were traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van that has since been recovered, according to the North Port Police Department.
“The van is there. We have him in custody. We are working with the FBI, it will be a very thorough process with all their skills and ours to find out anything that might be there, ”said Josh Taylor of the North Port Police Department.
“We currently have no definitive information that a crime has taken place here in North Port,” the NPPD said in a statement. “Having said that, the circumstances are strange.”
Petito is described as 5 feet 5 inches, 110 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She also has several tattoos including one on her finger and one on her forearm that says “let it be,” police said.
The family told police they last had contact with Petito during the last week of August. They said Petito would have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
A lawyer from Laundrie made this statement on Tuesday:
“This is naturally an extremely difficult time for the Petito family and the Laundrie family. We understand that a search has been arranged for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family, we hope that the search for Miss Petito will be successful and that Miss Petito will be reunited with her family. On the advice of the lawyer, the Laundrie family remain in the background at this point and will have no further comment. “
Taylor said Laundrie is someone they want to talk to.
“We first went to the residence where he and she lived with his parents on Saturday evening. We talked to parents. The parents provided us with a phone number for their family lawyer. This has been the extent of our conversation with the family, ”Taylor said.
The 22-year-old and her two-year-old boyfriend Brian Laundrie were on what the couple described as a “life-van journey” in a YouTube that documented the couple’s travels.
Petito and her boyfriend moved from Blue Point, NY to North Port two years ago before setting off on a van trip across the country in July.
Family members said they noticed the 22-year-old’s Instagram posts slowed down in late August around the same time they lost communication with her.
The Petito family released this statement:
“The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst times of their lives. Their twenty-two-year-old beautiful daughter is missing, and the only person who can help find Gabby refuses to help her. Brian Laundrie was traveling with Gabby in the Grand Teton – Yellowstone area. They were traveling together in Gabby’s 2012 Ford Transit van. This is where we think Gabby was last seen.
Brian refuses to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her. Brian also refuses to explain why he left Gabby alone and drove his van to Florida. These are crucial questions that require immediate answers.
The Schmidt and Petito family are begging the Laundrie family not to “stand back” but to help find who Brian called the love of his life. How does Brian stay in the background when he’s the only person who knows Gabby’s whereabouts?
The Schmidt and Petito family are begging Brian to come forward and at least tell us if we’re looking in the right area.
North Port Police report foul play is not out of the question.
“You know we are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. We are therefore not in a position to hope to find her and launch an investigation, which could be more important. We have to play both now, ”Taylor said.
The Suffolk County Police Department is asking anyone with information about Petito’s whereabouts to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.
The North Port Police Department and the FBI Field Office in Tampa are participating in the investigation. Tips can also be sent to 1-800-CALL-FBI or sent to tips.fbi.gov.