Brian Laundrie, the boyfriend of a missing Long Island woman, is refusing to speak to police regarding Gabby Petito’s strange disappearance. The couple was reportedly on a cross-country road trip and had stopped in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park when the 22-year-old woman vanished. Her last confirmed contact with her friends and family was on Aug. 25, when they shared a FaceTime call together. Now those close to her are starting to wonder if Laundrie should be viewed as a potential suspect.
While investigators recovered the white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida plates that the couple used to travel the country, there was no sign of Petito. And despite leaving on the trip together, Brian Laundrie is back at his Florida home. His refusal has led to suspicion, though as of Tuesday morning, he was not a suspect in her disappearance.
According to North Port police spokesman Josh Taylor, “we have the vehicle, we took it away very late Saturday night into Sunday.” Like any evidence, police took it and processed it for evidence such as “fingerprints” and “any evidentiary value that we think is possible,” Taylor said.
He added that “we are continuing to try to piece the things together. The situation is obviously very fluid.” The spokesman also confirmed that Brian Laundrie has not communicated with investigators. It was unclear why he refused to talk. However, police were spotted outside his home dropping off a pink envelope. The envelope’s contents were not clear as of Tuesday morning.
“We have not talked with him,” Taylor continued. “We would love to talk to him. He is under no obligation to talk to us — and he has not. And we don’t even know yet if a crime happened.” It was reported that Laundrie has retained an attorney, though the lawyer’s identity has not been revealed.
It was previously confirmed that police went to Laundrie’s home in Florida once before but officers were stopped by his parents. They “did not want to make him available,” a police report stated.
As of Tuesday morning, police said that they “have no definitive information that a crime took place here in North Port. With that said, the circumstances are odd.”
Authorities explained that “the vehicle she was traveling in was located here in North Port. So, we are actively gathering local details and any evidence to assist in finding needed answers. If you know anything about this case, please contact us at 941-429-7382.”
Taylor did say that to Fox News Tuesday that “we’re hopeful that she’s out there somewhere.” He admitted that “sometimes people just don’t want to communicate so that’s certainly still a viable option but we have to prepare for something more sinister.”
Gabby Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11, two weeks after she last made contact with her parents. She had been documenting her travel adventures on social media, including filming a YouTube video with her boyfriend and posting pictures on Instagram.
She and Brian Laundrie had been traveling across the country in what they described as “van life.” Petito’s last Instagram post was posted on Aug. 25. That night she video chatted with her family, according to her mom. The two shared text messages over the next few days but the parent couldn’t confirm whether it was actually her daughter on the phone.
When communication stopped altogether, Petito’s family got worried. They reported her missing to authorities on Saturday. A GoFundMe page, which was created “with the family’s permission,” has raised nearly $25,000 to “aid in the search for Gabby Petito.” The post on the page claimed that “Gabby is now considered missing under suspicious circumstances after no contact and an initial search effort.”
“While we are working with the FBI, multiple law enforcement agencies, and outside resources to pursue any and all leads the family will need funds and resources to travel and pay for expenses related to an investigation and search on the other side of the country,” the post continued. “Any help is appreciated.”
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, explained to reporters that she knows her daughter will come home. She claimed that “I believe a mother’s instinct is the most powerful. I believe she’s going to come home.”
During a press conference, Schmidt said that Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito had attended high school together and eventually “rekindled” their relationship. She claimed they had both been living in Florida together for two-and-a-half years.
In an Instagram post from last year, Brian Laundrie hinted at a possible engagement. “My biggest fear is that one day I’ll wake up and it will have all been a dream because that is what every second has felt like since the moment we found each other,” he wrote in the post. “Till death do us part or until I wake up, I’m so happy the answer was yes, Love you Hunny.”
Nicole Schmidt did not confirm whether the couple had gotten engaged. She later said that “as a mom, I had concerns about a daughter going on a road trip in general, but I felt safe, they were together. They had a plan, an itinerary, and we were excited for them. Everyone wanted to be doing what they were doing.”
Petito’s father, Joe Petito, said that he wants “to keep the focus on finding [Gabby]. [Laundrie] doesn’t matter. The van [they were in] doesn’t matter.”
During the press conference, Joe Petito also spoke directly to his daughter. “Gabby, we just want you to come home,” the distraught father said. “Call us. Let us know you’re OK. Come home, please.”