Fiancé of missing woman Gabby Petito has now also disappeared family tells police
The family of a Florida man who returned home from a cross-country road trip without his fiancé Gabby Petito says he is now also missing, according to police.
Authorities in several states have been searching for 22-year-old Petito after her partner Brian Laundrie, 23, returned to Florida alone on Sept. 1. Laundrie, who has been named a person of interest in the missing woman’s case, has refused to speak to police or the media except through statements from his lawyer.
On Friday, North Port Police went to the Laundrie home to speak with the family. In a statement following their visit, police said the family has claimed they have not seen Brian since Tuesday.
KNow anything? Please call 1-800-CALL-FBI pic.twitter.com/oCDTwHJvCt
— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 18, 2021
Police added the Laundries’ lawyer had called them to “talk about the disappearance of their son.”
“We understand the community’s frustration, we are frustrated too,” the statement read.
“For six days, the North Port Police Department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian’s fiancé Gabby Petito. Friday is the first time they have spoken with investigators in detail.”
Officials stressed that Laundrie is not a suspect in Petito’s disappearance, only a person of interest. No charges have been filed.
Police spokesperson Josh Taylor told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday night that the revelation of Laundrie’s disappearance “is another twist in this story.”
“What the family knows, we need to know from them,” Taylor said. “It is very possible that (Laundrie) shared some of these details (about Petito’s disappearance) with them. … Certainly we would love for them to share with us what he shared with them.”
“We have been trying all week to talk to his family, to talk to Brian, and now they have called us,” says North Port, FL PIO Josh Taylor of Gabby Petito’s fiancé.
“We have gone to the home and they are saying that now they have not seen their son… it is another twist.” pic.twitter.com/wSwFq2zRk8
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) September 18, 2021
The Laundrie family’s lawyer Stephen Bertolino said in a statement to ABC and other outlets Friday night that Brian Laundrie’s whereabouts are “currently unknown,” and that the FBI was removing property from the family home to help with their search for him.
“As of now the FBI is now looking for both Gabby and Brian,” the lawyer said.
Laundrie and Petito initially set out together in a van on a summer-long tour of national parks, in a journey that she aimed to document on her blog, Nomadic Statik. The couple were also documenting their trip on social media.
Petito’s family says they became worried about their daughter in late August, when she stopped showing up for her three-times-a-week FaceTime calls with her mom. Their last call was on Aug. 23 or 24.
Authorities say they last saw the couple together on video in Salt Lake City, where footage shows them checking out of a hotel on Aug. 24. Police say they were heading to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Laundrie showed up with the van at their shared home in Florida on Sept. 1. Petito was not in the car and Laundrie has not spoken publicly since.
Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11, and has pleaded to Laundrie and his family to speak to police and provide any information that could help locate Petito. The Laundries, through their lawyer Bertolino, had refused to comply with those appeals until Friday.
Police in Moab, Utah, released bodycam video Thursday showing officers responding to an emotional Petito on the side of the road after a fight with Laundrie days before she was last heard from. No charges were filed but officers had the couple separate for the night.
Petito’s mother says she last heard from her daughter in a text message on Aug. 30, but she’s not convinced that her daughter wrote the message.
Bertolino has said that his client has “nothing to offer” in the case, and that he will remain “in the background” while the investigation unfolds.
“Intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this, and the warning that ‘any statement made will be used against you’ is true, regardless of whether my client had anything to with Ms. Petito’s disappearance,” Bertolino said in a statement on Thursday.
“Mr. Laundrie will continue to remain silent on the advice of counsel.”
Police have confiscated the couple’s van.
Petito is described as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white woman with several tattoos. She stands five feet five inches tall and weighs approximately 110 pounds.