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Family of missing North Port woman says boyfriend won't cooperate in search

Posted at 10:10 AM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 10:10:00-04

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The search for a 22-year-old North Port woman continues.

Gabby Petito went missing on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend. We're learning police were called to an incident involving the couple. Police in Utah told Fox News they responded to an incident involving Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, on August 12, about two weeks before she was last seen at Grand Teton Park in Wyoming. Neither Petitio or Laundrie were the reporting party. Utah police were unable to provide more details, but say there was not enough evidence to file charges.

“We're all hopeful that she'll be back home," said Josh Taylor, PIO with North Port Police Department. "But certainly, there are a lot of signs that, certainly have you concerned for her well-being.”

Investigators are growing increasingly concerned about the well-being of Petito. The last time she was seen was on August 25th when she face-timed with her mother from Wyoming. The couple set out on a cross country road trip in July. Her family reported her missing over the weekend after they could no longer reach her. Gabby documented her adventures on YouTube, seen alongside Laundrie. But Petito's family says the one person who can help find their daughter is refusing to help.

“You can sympathize, you can empathize, you can understand but it’s different when you’re in it," says Joseph Petito, Gabby’s Father. "You've got no answers. All you want to do is you want to find her. You want answers.”

An attorney for the Laundrie family releasing a statement on Tuesday saying a search for Gabby has been organized in or near Grand Teton National Park. The statement says quote, "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."

Petito's family responded with a statement of their own, saying quote, "Brian is refusing to tell us 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."

Officials say they are staying positive, but are concerned. The Ford Transit the couple were traveling in was recovered in North Port and will be searched for evidence. North Port Police have not called Laundrie a suspect or person of interest, but have called the circumstances surrounding Petito's disappearance, "odd."

Taylor released this statement, saying, "We have not labeled anyone anything officially. I think that is a very vague term. What I was trying to relay is that we certainly are interested in speaking with him. I think anyone would assume that the possible last person to be around her is a person of interest to want to talk with. However, there is no crime at this point."

Detectives are asking anyone with information on Petito's disappearance to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. The FBI Tampa Field Office is assisting with the investigation. You can also call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit your tip online right here.