Gabby Petito was a missing New York woman who vanished while filming a YouTube series called “Van Life” with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. Authorities now believe they have found her remains in Wyoming.
Gabrielle Petito, 22, of Blue Point, is described by New York authorities as a “white female, approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads “let it be.” The van she was traveling in has been recovered.” Blue Point is located on Long Island.
Charles Jones, supervisory resident agent in Wyoming for the FBI, said in a September 19, 2021, press conference, “I would like to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family.”
“FBI personnel in coordination with our partners…have been conducting investigative activity… earlier today human remains were recovered consistent with the description of Gabrielle, Gabby, Petito,” he said.
Full forensic identification is not yet complete. “The cause of death has not yet been determined at this time.” Authorities were searching a Wyoming area named Spread Creek camping area when the body was found. Jones described it as a “rugged area.”
It’s located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the border with Grand Teton National Park.
Petito’s family raised the alarm that she was missing to authorities after not hearing from her while she was on the cross-country jaunt, which they described as unusual. The trip, touring national parks, started in July, Fox News reported.
“We had been in touch with her as she traveled,” Petito’s father, Joe, told The Daily Beast. “I’d speak to her once a week or so, her mom spoke to her two or three times a week. My son would talk to her often on Snapchat, FaceTime; my niece would be in constant contact with her.”
Petito’s dad has also been posting on his Facebook page urgent pleas to find his daughter. “Please Help Find Gabby. This is my daughter Gabby Petito. Please share and help find her. She was last seen headed to Yellowstone National Park from Salt Lake City, Utah,” he wrote with one plea.
Chief Todd Garrison, police chief in North Port, Florida, tweeted at Laundrie and his lawyer, “@NPPDPoliceChief Mr. Steven Bertolino, esq. the @NorthPortPolice needs your help in finding Gabby Petito. Please call us to arrange a conversation with Brian Laundrie. Two people left on a trip and one person returned! #wheresgabby #FindGabby #fbitampa #gabbypetito.”
Laundrie has now disappeared, and his family is talking with investigators.
As of September 18, 2021, North Port police were conducting a massive search for Laundrie in Carlton Reserve. That’s a 24,565-acre preserve located in Sarasota County, Florida.
“The North Port Police Department, FBI, and agency partners are currently conducting a search of the vast Carlton Reserve for Brian Laundrie. His family says they believe he entered the area earlier this week. More details when available,” North Port police wrote on Twitter.
Police revealed in a statement that the attorney for Laundrie’s family called the FBI on Friday night (September 17) and indicated the family wanted to “talk about the disappearance of their son.”
The family “now claims that they have not seen Brian since Tuesday of this week,” police wrote. He was “last seen wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap.”
Police said they are frustrated because, for six days, they pleaded with the family to contact investigators regarding Petito. “Friday is the first time they have spoken with investigators in detail. It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime. We are not currently working a crime investigation. We are now working a multiple missing person investigation.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Petito’s Last Known Location Was Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming; the Chief Where Laundrie Now Lives Has Tweeted at Him to Speak With Police
A missing person’s alert for Petito was released by Suffolk County, New York, police. It says “Blue Point Woman Missing,” and added, “Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Date/Time: Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 6:55 p.m.”
The release states, “Suffolk County Police Fifth Squad detectives are investigating the disappearance of a Blue Point woman who went missing while traveling. Gabrielle Petito was traveling in a white, 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03 with a companion when she stopped communicating with friends and family.”
It adds, “Petito was reported missing to the Suffolk County Police Department by her family on September 11 at approximately 6:55 p.m. According to family, they were last in contact with her during the last week of August. Prior to the last communication, Petito is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.”
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, told Fox News she last spoke with her daughter on August 25. She received a text from her on both the 27th and 30th but now says “I don’t know if she left Grand Teton or not…I don’t know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text. I didn’t verbally speak to her.”
In a statement, North Port police wrote:
The national search into the disappearance of Gabrielle Petito of North Port continues. Due to the parties in this case residing in North Port, Florida, the North Port Police Department will be the primary investigating agency, in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. We will also continue to work with the Suffolk County Police Department, and we are thankful for their assistance.
Several detectives are working around the clock to piece this complex and far-reaching situation together. Gabrielle’s vehicle was recovered here in North Port at her home on September 11th. A home shared with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie and his parents. That vehicle was fully processed for evidence along with FBI agents Tuesday evening. As of now, Brian has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details. We know Brian returned here to North Port on September 1st — ten days before her family reported her missing on September 11th. We have no information that a crime occurred here in North Port. Brian Laundrie is a person of interest in this case.
“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through. 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,” says North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison.
“The FBI has set up a national hotline to receive tips. 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324). That is now our primary tip line. So far, we have received hundreds of tips which are being vetted through multiple agencies. If anyone has seen the van photographed and information which might be helpful, please let us know,” the release stated.
“According to family, they were last in contact with Gabrielle during the last week of August. Prior to the last communication, Gabrielle is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Petito and Brian were traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03. Gabrielle, 22, is white, approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads ‘let it be.'”
They continued: “The North Port Police Department continues to work with the media to spread the word. We have conducted interviews with all major television networks and roughly 60 media outlets in the past 48 hours. The first place we will post all info will be on our social media platforms. @northportpd on Facebook and at @NorthPortPolice on Twitter. You may also want to follow Chief Garrison on Twitter @NPPDpoliceChief.”
2. The Couple Showcased Their Van Trip in a YouTube Series
The couple’s YouTube series is called “VAN LIFE | Beginning Our Van Life Journey.” One of their videos has more than 145,000 views.
It’s 8 minutes longer and shows the couple walking on a beach together. They appear close. It then shows them on the road. They kiss in one scene; they’re eating sushi in the next. In one frame, they’re in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. In another, they watch the sunset together on the beach.
They do cartwheels on the beach in front of an amusement park and ride a ferris wheel together before kissing some more.
Their YouTube Channel Nomadic Statik has more than 1.37 million users. The van life video is their only video.
“A glimpse into our van adventures! After our first cross country trip in a little Nissan Sentra, we both decided we to wanted downsize our lives and travel full time, but trying to fit everything for two people into the tiny little trunk of the car, also spending way too much on gas, food, and airbnb, was not the road to take,” the page says.
“We quickly realized we had to come up with a solution if we wanted to continue traveling and living nomadically, so that’s why we handcrafted our own tiny van, a simple 2012 Ford transit connect, utilizing space with unique designs and features. Creating a space for both artistic expression and distance hiking. Thank you so much for watching, and we hope you tag along on our journey wherever the van takes us!”
They added: “Follow our van life journey for some awesome van life ideas, tips, hacks, camping spots, and so many beautiful places to travel!”
The couple also had a website and a blog. The website, captioned Brian & Gabby, is password protected and sends readers back to the YouTube page.
3. ‘I Have So Much Love for You,’ Petito Wrote of Laundrie on Instagram, But Police in Utah Responded to an Earlier Altercation
On Instagram, Petito described herself as “Along for the ride…traveling the world in our tiny van…art, yoga, & veggies.” Her most recent post was two weeks before she disappeared, and it was about Halloween.
In August, she wrote, “Almost immediately after telling @bizarre_design_ how happy it made me to see that people were truly respectful of the park, I watched some guy leave his processed pre-packaged plastic conglomerate of lunch garbage on the picnic table!”
They were in Arches National Park on August 12. bizarre_design_ is the Instagram page for Brian Laundrie. She wrote, in a post that contained some typos:
We decided to take the path less traveled on the other side of the arch. After waiting in a short line for some photos under the arch early monday morning, we wanted to find a place to relax and draw while still admiring the arch, but also get away from the crowd that kept growing as the day went on. We walked just a little past the arch where the rock is at such an angle, it appers impossible to walk on, but being such expierenced hikers, I had confidence that I could make it!
While @bizarre_design_ climbed down some steep slopes with the camera, I shimmied my way along a thin flat narrow line that led directly to a big flat rock with the absolute most beautiful view from directly underneath the arch! After taking a few cool photos of each other @bizarre_design_ and I sat drawing and enjoying the nature without seeing anybody who was on line or taking photos! It felt like we had the entire delicate arch to ourselves! We got to spend about 2 hours relaxing here on this side of the arch with nobody bothering us, except this one guy who saw us and thought he could do it too!
Many people who spotted us were contemplating how we made it here, shouting things like “wow you guys must be crazy!” One guy started to come our direction, talking the same thin narrow way along the rock as I did, and he got stuck. Stuck in fear of not knowing where to put his feet to climb out, @bizarre_design_ and I helped him climb back to his wife who was laughing hysterically giving us a big thumbs up!
In the last few photos, you can see what I mean by “thin narrow line” there was no path to the flat rock that sat perfectly level out of the steep angled side of what’s basically a cliff, so I do not recommend trying this yourself! ⚠︎︎ (Rock Climbing is Dangerous! That guy we had to help off the edge wacked me with his walking stick while I was helping him back up! ) We are athletic and very experienced hikers and have high confidence for rock climbing! Do not try this at home!
In July 2020, she shared a photo with Brian and wrote, “Here’s a picture from our first date because I have so much love for you 🍣 Brian asked me to marry him and I said yes! @bizarre_design_ you make life feel unreal, and everyday is such a dream with you 🤍.”
In May 2020, she wrote, “I can’t wait to get back to days like this, traveling the world with you and asking strangers to take our picture 🌧 never taking moments like this for granted again! Love you 🤍”
However, according to CBS News, Moad, Utah, Police responded to a “dispute” between Petito and Laundrie on August 12. Police say both, including witnesses, say that Petito slapped Laundrie during an argument and Laundrie “grabbed her face and pushed her back.”
CBS News reported that the couple said they loved each other and didn’t want charges to be filed, so they weren’t; Laundrie told police the road trip caused arguments and “emotional strain” on the couple, the network reported.
4. Laundrie Trashed the Media on Instagram and Implored, ‘Take a Hike Everyday’
On his Instagram page, Laundrie wrote, “Take a hike everyday🌿Bug bites are better than being brainwashed by the media🌿 nature enthusiast🌿 Taking on #vanlife with @gabspetito.”
His most recent Instagram post came in Moab, Utah, on August 13, 2021. He wrote,
Humans are primates, great apes in fact but I don’t know all how great we are as a species. Chimpanzees share 98.8% of there DNA with humans, our closest living relative, but as I see it every living creature is in some way our relative even trees. Only 800 million years ago animal cells started appearing on earth comprised of mainly the same parts and following the same functions as plant cells. Requiring oxygen, solar energy, minerals, nutrients and water. This tree(Juniperus osteosperma)was surviving in only inches of soil, in an area of extreme heat and drought. I think our culture, our society has put itself above all living creatures, creating needs purely to support destructive economic practices. This tree doesn’t require an Apple Watch, it doesn’t stream its favorite shows, or have a microwave oven, pay health insurance or drink grande iced caramel macchiatos. It is just a tree but you rarely see geese riding jet skis or wearing designer clothing either. I think if we all want breathable air and drinkable water we all need to learn how to live with less🌏
5. Laundrie Has Hired an Attorney & ‘Remained Mum on Her Whereabouts,’ a Report Says
According to CBS News, Laundrie’s family released this statement: “On behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family. On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”
Petito’s family then released their own statement, according to CBS: “Brian is refusing to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her. Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida. These are critical questions that require immediate answers.”
Daily Mail reported that Laundrie “has remained mum on her whereabouts, hiring an attorney and refusing to speak publicly about what happened, according to Petito’s family.”
People have filled Laundrie’s last Instagram post with comments about Petito. “Where is she, Brian?” wrote one person.
“Hoping you find the courage to do the right thing and bring her home,” wrote another.
“Where’s Gabby?” wrote several. “Thinking of Gabby!!!! Are you??? Please let us know where she is,” another person wrote.
According to Daily Mail, Petito “was last seen on August 24 checking out of a hotel with Laundrie in Salt Lake City, Utah” before telling her family the next day that she had traveled with Laundrie to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
The North Point Police Department in North Point, Florida, wrote on Facebook, “The North Port Police Department is actively assisting in this case in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police Department where she was reported missing.”