Shock twist in missing woman case

A bombshell police report has revealed new details about missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito’s relationship with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie.

Missing Long Island woman Gabby Petito and her boyfriend scuffled near a Utah national park last month, telling police that tension between the two “had been building over the last few days,” according to police records.

Petito also told cops she feared that her beau, Brian Laundrie, was going to drive off and leave her behind “without a ride”.

According to police, they considered domestic violence charges against Petito, who “was struggling with her mental health” and allegedly scratched Laundrie.

But police determined the situation did not rise to a criminal case “as much as that of a mental health crisis” and told the feuding couple to spend the night apart.

“Both the male and the female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” said the report, obtained by The New York Post.

Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23, told cops in Moab, Utah, during the August 12 incident they had been travelling together for months and the “emotional strain between them” had led to an “increased number of arguments,” the report said.

Police initially responded to a report of a domestic disturbance around 4.30pm near the Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, and later pulled over the 2012 Ford Transit van the two were travelling in.

“I approached the vehicle and saw the only occupants being Gabrielle and Brian,” Police Officer Daniel Scott Robbins wrote. “Gabrielle, who was in the passenger east, was crying uncontrollably.”

Petito and Laundrie told cops they both suffered from an undisclosed disorder, with Laundrie telling the officer “neither he nor Gabrielle take medication”.

The specific disorder was redacted from the police report.

According to the report, the couple got into an argument near a local convenience store, and Petito attempted to slap Laundrie, who locked her out of the van.

“Brian said Gabrielle, thinking he was going to leave her in Moab without a ride, went to slap him,” the report said. “As Gabrielle started to swing, Brian pushed her away to avoid the slap. As a result Gabrielle, off-balance, but still caught Brian’s face with some fingers causing minor visible scratches.”

But neither of the two wanted to press charges, and police said they “then determined the most appropriate course of action would be to help separate the parties for the night so they could reset their mental states without interference from one another”.

The officers found a hotel room for Laundrie for the night and Petito remained in the van.

The 22-year-old Long Island native was last heard from late last month and reported missing by her mother on September 11.

Laundrie returned home with the van on September 1 without Petito and has since refused to co-operate with authorities.

Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt — who has twice pleaded with Laundrie to reveal what happened — reported her missing on Saturday, and police seized the van.

Laundrie has now been identified as a person of interest in her mysterious disappearance, police said Wednesday.

“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said in a statement.

“We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past weeks,” Garrison said. “The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation.

“We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance,” the chief said.

North Port Police also said that authorities have received “hundreds of tips which are being vetted through multiple agencies” and asked anyone who may have seen the white 2012 Ford Transit van Petito and Laundrie were traveling in to call them.

Laundrie broke his silence Tuesday, saying through his Long Island-based attorney Steven Bertolino that he and his family would be “remaining in the background.”

At a press conference Wednesday, North Police police spokesman Josh Taylor took issue with that statement.

“They put out a release yesterday saying they remain in the background,” Taylor told reporters. “That’s not good enough. We need the details.”

Asked why Laundrie was identified as a person of interest, Taylor added that, “I think most people would come to that conclusion in this case.

“He was the last person that we have information was around her,” he said. “How you define person of interest is up to you, but certainly we are interested in talking to him.

“If she’s out there we’re doing everything in our power to bring her home,” he said.

Taylor said authorities seized the 2012 Ford van the couple was traveling in and had finished processing it “less than 12 hours ago.”

He said Laundrie arrived back in North Port without Petito on Sept. 1 and was there 10 days before the van was seized.

— New York Post


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