wkbw_49278_Super7_658x90.png

Actions

Gabby Petito case: Where the investigation into missing traveler stands

Gabby Petito
Posted at 11:46 AM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 15:38:32-04

Authorities continue the search for Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old woman who went missing amid a cross-country trip with her fiancé, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie.

Since Petito was reported missing over the weekend, police have named Laundrie a person of interest in her disappearance. He returned to his Florida home on Sept. 1 and has since declined to speak to the police or cooperate with investigators.

"This girl right here, this is all the matters," Gabby's father, Joe Petito, said during a press conference Thursday. "Everything else comes second."

So, where does the investigation into Petito's disappearance stand? And what could be in store in the coming days?

Timeline

Petito and Laundrie took part in a nomadic cross-country trip in a converted Ford Transit van that served as a camper. Along the way, Petito captured images of her travels on her Instagram page and even started a YouTube channel, Nomadic Statik.

According to a map published on a Facebook page created in the hopes of finding Petito, the couple began their road trip in upstate New York on July 2. They traveled westward, stopping in Colorado Springs on July 6 before heading to Utah.

Petito and Laundrie spent several weeks traveling and hiking in Utah's national and state parks.

Aug. 25 marked the final time that Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, says she spoke with her daughter. At that point, Petito told her mother that she was in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Schmidt told Fox News earlier this week that she later received text messages from her daughter, but she isn't sure who sent them.

Laundrie returned home from the trip on Sept. 1, and Petito was reported missing 10 days later, according to The New York Times.

Aug. 12 incident

On Thursday, the Moab Police Department released body camera footage showing officers speaking to Petito and Laundrie after pulling over their van near Arches National Park.

In the video, Petito was emotional and told officers that she and her fiancé had been "fighting all morning."

Laundrie also told officers that the two had been fighting. There were scratches visible on his face, which he said resulted from a physical scuffle with Petito.

Police declined to file charges in the incident, classifying it only as a "mental health crisis" when the couple agreed to spend the night in separate places. Police say Petito stayed in the van while Laundrie got a hotel room.

"They are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn't wish to see anyone charged with a crime," an officer wrote in a report about the incident.

Police added that neither Petito nor Laundrie called 911. Instead, a bystander called the police after seeing them fighting at Moonflower, a co-op convenience store in Moab.

Authorities have also confirmed that the social media platforms that Petito had been using during her trip have been cooperating with the investigation.

A separate murder investigation

On Aug. 13, a day after police interviewed Petito and Laundrie, Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, were last seen at Moonflower — the same Moab store where Petito and Laundrie had been spotted fighting.

Schulte, an employee at the store, and Turner were found shot to death on Aug. 18 at a campsite in the Moab area. The newlyweds were traveling with Schulte's aunt and niece, and according to Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City, the family members had told friends about a man who was "creeping them out" near the campground.

Turner Schulte

While police have not formally linked Petito's missing person case and the murders of Schulte and Turner, a spokesperson for the Grand County Sheriff's Office told Fox News that they're "not ruling anything out."

Police have not yet filed charges in connection with Schulte's and Turner's deaths.

Where does the investigation stand?

Laundrie has not been charged with a crime. In North Port, Florida, police have only listed him as a person of interest in Petito's disappearance.

Police have had little to say about Laundrie or his continued silence.

"Brian is exercising his Constitutional rights, and I have to respect that," North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said at a press conference on Thursday.

Garrison later noted that officers were aware of Laundrie's location.

The department has also confirmed that Laundrie drove the white van back to the house the Laundrie shared with Petito and her parents on Sept. 1.

Garrison added that they are continuing to analyze the personal items that were in the van for evidence.

"I don't know what it has to do with the disappearance," Garrison added.