Sep 15, 2021 - News

North Port influencer’s disappearance goes national

Welcoming sign out front of Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Major national and international news outlets are now reporting on the disappearance of a young adventurer from North Port who was last seen in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.

What we know: In July, 22-year-old Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, set out from the East Coast on a road trip in the couple’s Ford Transit van to visit national parks across the West.

  • She documented much of the #vanlife journey through Colorado and Utah on her Instagram and Youtube accounts.

Yes, but: Her Instagram post on Aug. 25 and a few subsequent texts were the last her family heard from her.

  • No one has reported communicating with her since Aug. 30.

Background: Petito lived in North Port at Laundrie's home on Wabasso Avenue before the van trip.

  • Laundrie returned to North Port, as did the van, but Petito did not.

North Port police took the van on Sunday, the North Port Sun reported, and Laundrie's family "advised police to contact a family lawyer in New York on his circumstances."

  • Police in Suffolk County, N.Y., where her parents live in the town of Blue Point, began investigating Petito’s disappearance late last week. Her parents reported her missing on Sept. 11 after not hearing from her for a week.

What they're saying: WABC in New York reported yesterday that a lawyer for Laundrie issued a statement saying the man and his family "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 parents issued a statement later urging Laundrie to cooperate with police:

  • "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."

The latest: A police chief in Utah told WFLA that Petito and Laundrie were involved in some incident that police investigated, but details are scarce.

  • “Our officers did respond to an incident involving (the boyfriend) and Gabrielle Petito on 12 August 2021 however, neither (he) or Gabrielle were the reporting party,” Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge wrote in an email. “Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.”

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