Florida Woman Goes Missing on Cross-Country Van Trip, Fiancée Named Person of Interest

The case surrounding the 22-year-old woman's disappearance has received nationwide attention. The woman's boyfriend, per police, is a person of interest.

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The fiancée of a Florida woman who is said to have gone missing on a cross-country road trip is now a person of interest in the investigation.

Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, 22, was last in communication with her family in late August. At the time, Petito and her boyfriend—identified as Brian Laundrie—are believed to have been in the area of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. 

Per an Associated Press report, Petito and Laundrie were “childhood sweethearts” in Suffolk County, New York before moving in 2019 to North Port, Florida to live with Laundrie’s parents. In July, the couple set off in a white 2012 Ford Transit van (with Florida plates) from New York. The goal was to hit Oregon by Halloween. 

In a recent press release, the North Port Police Department was listed as the primary investigating agency in the national search into Petito’s disappearance. Assisting them are the FBI and the Suffolk County Police Department. According to police, Laundrie arrived back in North Port in the same van on Sept. 1. Another 10 days after that, Petito’s family reported her as missing, prompting the eventual recovery and processing of the van by police and FBI agents.

“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said Wednesday. “We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks. The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance.”

Laundrie has not been charged with a crime. However, police said Wednesday he had “not made himself available” for interviews nor had he “provided any helpful details.”

On Aug. 12, police in the Moab area of Utah received a call about a potential domestic violence incident, with one witness telling a 911 operator that they saw Laundrie and Petito fighting over a phone. At one point, Petito is alleged to have “went to slap [Laundrie]” but he reportedly “pushed her away.” Ultimately, police advised the couple to spend the evening separated. No charges were filed. 

In the AP report, Moab authorities’ final say on the August incident was summarized as them having speculated it to be a mental health crisis of some sort. It’s not currently known what transpired after the couple’s police interaction.

In a statement shared with WABC-TV this week, a rep for Petito’s family called Laundrie’s silence “reprehensible” and urged him to speak out.

The cross-country van trip was the focus of a number of social media posts, including a YouTube video uploaded to an account by the name of Nomadic Statik. At the time of this writing, the eight-minute video—dated Aug. 19—had been viewed nearly 800,000 times. In the comments, thousands of people have shared messages of support for Petito’s family amid the ongoing search.

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Complex has reached out to reps for the North Port Police Department, the Suffolk County Police Department, and the attorney for Laundrie’s family for additional comment. Those with information are asked to share it via the national FBI hotline.

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