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Police consider boyfriend a ‘person of interest’ in case of missing Blue Point native

Petito's family says Laundrie is refusing to say where he last saw her and why he left Petito alone and drove her van to Florida.

News 12 Staff

Sep 15, 2021, 10:08 AM

Updated 1,009 days ago


Police consider boyfriend a 'person of interest' in case of missing Blue Point native
Police in Florida say they consider the boyfriend of missing Blue Point native Gabby Petito a person of interest.
Police say boyfriend Brian Laundrie returned to the Florida area 10 days before Petito's family reported her missing.
The North Port Police Department in Florida is now the leading agency in the missing person's case. The case was previously being handled by the Suffolk County Police Department where Petito's family filed the missing person report. However, both Petito, 22, and boyfriend Brian Laundrie live in Florida.
"I think we're just pleading with him at this point, please speak with us, we need to understand those details," says Josh Taylor, of the North Port, Florida Police Department. "They put out a release yesterday, saying they remain in the background. That is not good enough! We need the details."
News 12 obtained a public copy of a police report from Moab, Utah. It states that on Aug. 12, someone called police to report a domestic disturbance between Petito and Laundrie. Responding officers said of Gabby, "She didn't want to be separated from the male and began slapping him. He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van, he tried to lock her out. Both agree that Gabby suffers from serious anxiety, etc. It appeared that this incident was more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health break than a domestic assault."
Taylor says Laundrie was the last known person around her that police have information about.
Petito's family is pleading for the one person with answers to share what he knows.
In a statement to News 12, they wrote in part, "Brian, come forward, and at least tell us we are looking in the right area."
Gabby's mom Nicole Schmidt is upset and told News 12, "Brian has to have important information because he was most likely the last person with Gabby. We need him to talk to tell us what he knows. It will aid in us finding her."
Their statement comes after Laundrie's attorney said Tuesday that his client was choosing to "remain in the background."
Petito's family says Laundrie is refusing to say where he last saw her and why he left Petito alone and drove her van to Florida.
"I'm disheartened by his lack of communication," says Schmidt. "It doesn't make sense to me, this is the love of his life, and they're just sitting quiet down there. I don't understand. It's just baffling."
The statement below was issued by Steven Bertolino, attorney for Brian Laundrie.
The FBI and police in two states are trying to find Petito, who was on a cross-country road trip this summer and hasn't been seen since FaceTiming with her mother on Aug. 25 from Wyoming.
Officials say Petito and Laundrie had been living in Florida for the last 2 1/2 years. Laundrie is there now and so is the van they were traveling in, which police say is being processed for physical evidence.
Laundrie hasn't spoken to investigators, but they say they are hoping that will change.  
Meanwhile, News 12 has learned today that authorities in Moab, Utah, responded to an incident involving Petito and her boyfriend on Aug. 12– nearly two weeks before her family last spoke with her on FaceTime.  
Officials say the couple were not the ones who called police, and that there was not enough evidence for criminal charges to be filed. 
The FBI is also assisting and has set up a national hotline for tips at 1-800-CALL-FBI.  

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