The Disappearance of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie

Bella Martin, Editor-in-Chief

Local and federal authorities are currently looking for Gabby Petito, a 22-year old New York native reported missing by her family on Sept. 11 after traveling with her Florida native boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. 

In June, Petito and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country road trip to the West Coast, where they planned to visit several national parks. However, on Aug. 12, police in Moab, Utah — a gateway city to Arches National Park — pulled the couple over after witnessing a physical altercation between the two. According to Moab police officer Eric Pratt, Petito and Laundrie insisted on not pressing any charges and decided to separate for the night. 

After this altercation, the couple continued on their road trip and visited Grand Teton National Park in the last week of August. Petito’s family told North Port, Florida authorities that this was the last time they had been in contact with her. According to the Petito family attorney Richard Stafford, the family received several texts from Gabby from August 24-30. However, they believe that the last text, sent on Aug. 30, did not come from Gabby herself. .  

Then, on Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to his parent’s home in North Port, Florida without Petito. Police recovered and processed the he white 2012 Ford Transit van they used to travel in.  In the vehicle, authorities found some material that they need to investigate further before making any conclusions. As previously stated, Petito’s family eventually reported her missing to the Suffolk County, New York police on Sept. 11 after not speaking to her for several days. North Port authorities went to speak to Laundrie about her suspected disappearance but supposedly received information from the family’s attorney. 

After days without any information or cooperation from the Laundrie family, attorney Stafford released a statement on behalf of the Petito family pleading with the Laundries to help with the investigation. The Petitos claimed that they reached out to the Laundries for help earlier in the month, but the Laundries refused to provide any information. 

On Sept. 17, the Laundrie family requested that the police come to their Florida home after not hearing from Brian since Tuesday of that week. The Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, announced Brian’s whereabouts as unknown. After Brian’s disappearance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation got involved in the search. As of now, the North Port police and FBI have started searching the Carlton Reserve — a 245-acre nature preserve in Sarasota County, Florida — to find Laundrie after receiving a tip. 

According to police and FBI missing person reports, Petito is a White female, about five feet, five inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and several tattoos. No description has been released on Laundrie. If anyone has information on the whereabouts of Gabby Petito or Brian Laundrie, contact the FBI national hotline at 1-800-CALLFBI, the Suffolk County police at 1-800-220-TIPS or the North Port Police Department at 941-429-7382.