Cops probing the disappearance of van-life girl Gabby Petito have appealed to her boyfriend Brian Laundrie to talk to them directly to help locate her, in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com.
Gabby, 22, was reported missing by her family on Saturday after they hadn’t heard from her in 13 days. She had been traveling with Laundrie since July – and last spoke to relatives on August 25. Her last known location was Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Laundrie returned alone to their home in North Port, where the couple moved in with his parents two years ago. He was driving the couple’s 2012 Ford Transit van, which police hauled away late Saturday night.
But he has refused to talk directly to detectives to help solve the mystery disappearance – and his family have directed officers to their family attorney.
Asked if police would appeal for him to speak to them, information chief Taylor told DailyMail.com: ‘Of course. Certainly – at any point. We are ready to listen, we are ready to take that information.
‘I would not say he’s a person of interest at this point. We need to talk to him. We need to rule that out and move forward.
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North Port Police are asking for Brian Laundrie (pictured left with Gabby) to cooperate in their investigation into girlfriend Gabby Petito’s disappearance after his parents refused to let cops question him
North Port information officer Josh Taylor, pictured, told DailyMail.com Tuesday that Laundrie is not a person of interest but is being sought for questioning in hopes he could provide cops with information that would lead them to Gabby’s whereabouts
‘Most people would think this individual might have some details as far as the last time he saw her, the last whereabouts.
‘It has not been helpful that he has not talked. We are doing everything we can to get answers for her family and to potentially bring her home safe.
‘So anytime somebody is not fully cooperating to provide that it can be difficult. Anybody would assume that is frustrating for investigators.’
Taylor stressed that there was a channel for dialogue with Laundrie’s New York-based attorney.
‘At least there is an avenue to hopefully get some questions answered,’ he said.
DailyMail.com exclusively revealed Laundrie’s van was seized by North Port police late Saturday night for forensic tests – and that his parents Christopher, 62, and Roberta, 55, refused to allow officers to talk to their son when they arrived at their door at the same time.
‘We have not talked with him, we would love to talk to him, He is under no obligation to talk to us – and he has not,’ Taylor said.
Police officers went door to door in the Laundries’ quiet road Tuesday afternoon to talk to the family’s neighbors. They did not approach the Laundries’ home and would not speak about the inquiry.
Earlier, cops were seen dropping off a pink envelope containing a receipt for the couple’s van outside the family’s house, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned.
Taylor said when officers first visited the Laundries’ parents’ single-story home in a quiet residential street in the town, ‘they did not want to make him available.’
At least 12 detectives in North Port, located on Florida’s west coast and 25 miles south of Sarasota – are involved in the investigation into Gabby’s disappearance.
Police officers went door to door in the Laundries’ quiet road Tuesday afternoon to talk to the family’s neighbors. They did not approach the Laundries’ home and would not speak about the inquiry
Taylor said when officers first visited the Laundries’ parents’ single-story home in a quiet residential street in the town, ‘they did not want to make him available.’ Pictured: Detectives visit neighbors home in North Port, Florida
Laundrie’s father, 62-year-old Christopher Laundrie (pictured), was seen mowing his lawn on Monday, and refused to comment on his son’s whereabouts
Above is the Laundrie family home in North Port, Florida, where Brian Laundrie returned in the couple’s van without Petito after their trip
Gabby’s family’s desperate plea
The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives. Their beautiful twenty-two year old daughter is missing and the one person that can help find Gabby refuses to help. Brian Laundrie was traveling with Gabby in the Grand Teton – Yellowstone area. They were traveling together in Gabby’s 2012 Ford Transit van. That is where we believe Gabby was last seen.
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. These are critical questions that require immediate answers.
The Schmidt and Petito family beg the Laundrie family to not “remain in the background” but to help find who Brian referred to as the love of his life. How does Brian stay in the background when he is the one person that knows where Gabby is located?
The Schmidt and Petito family implore Brian to come forward and at least tell us if we are looking in the right area.
The probe also involves the FBI and Suffolk County Police on Long Island, New York, Gabby’s hometown and where her distraught mother Nicole Schmidt, who reported her missing, lives.
Meanwhile forensic experts continue to pore over the Transit van for anything that will help solve the mystery.
Taylor said: ‘Our focus is providing answers for the family. And then if we do get to a situation where something more nefarious has happened, that we’re able to provide a good packet of information to whatever other agency might be looking into this.
‘That van, obviously, was something they were traveling in and it can give us some clues. It’s a key piece of evidence. Anything could be in that van. So we’ve got it, it’s in a safe location.’
The spokesman refused to say when Laundrie arrived back in Florida on his own.
He revealed detectives are scrutinizing the couple’s social media pages as they catalogued their journey across America to try to determine a crunch point timeline for the disappearance.
And he confirmed there was ‘a lot of concern by the details we know’ although would not give any further information.
Gabby’s mom said the last time she spoke over the phone with her daughter was on August 25 – and cast suspicion on the texts received from her adventure-seeking girl over the next five days.
She said she texted Gabby on August 27 and 30, but now says she isn’t sure if her daughter was on the other end of the exchange because it wasn’t verbal and she didn’t share any photos of herself.
‘Downsizing out life to fit into this itty bitty van was the best decision we’ve ever made,’ Laundrie wrote on Instagram in early July.
Brian Laundrie (pictured left) has since returned home to Florida with the pair’s camper van, according to missing Gabby Petito’s father Joseph Petito, and is not cooperating with police in their investigation
The above map illustrates the places Petito and Laundrie visited since the start of the trip leaving New York on July 2 to when she last spoke to her family on August 25 from Grand Teton National Park
Taylor said of the couple: ‘We are aware of some reservations they had for campsites at different locations, throughout the country. So you start following up on some of those.
‘The goal is to pinpoint, when did activity stop? Where did they come to a screeching halt? We know on what date she stopped talking to her parents.
‘We have the last date she Facetimed, or the mother definitely knew it was her talking with her daughter. And then we have this text deal where, yes – who sent the text? So that’s a loose end.
‘It’s complex – multiple locations, people living off the grid. Anything is possible at this point. We are working through it.’
North Port police are also prepared to get warrants to unlock social media accounts.
‘We’ll look at any account we are able to get possession of,’ Taylor told DailyMail.com. ‘Certain accounts and certain apps have different types of meta data that can reveal locations.
‘We will utilize every resource we have, whether that be search warrants for different companies or whatever, to ultimately to get that information to piece back where these folks have been.
‘We are throwing everything we have got at it. Right now we have a missing person case. We are trying to get to the bottom of where she’s at. Hopeful that she’s OK and we can all move on with our lives.
‘However there is a lot of concern here by the details that we know. Nothing definitive but certainly enough to rise concern.’
Petito was seen in a YouTube video having a snack in the van as they made way on their cross-country journey
The couple started their trip on July 2 after Petito attended her brother’s graduation in New York on June 17. They planned to reach Portland, Oregon, and visit a family friend for Halloween
‘I can’t say much, but she’s no longer with the van,’ Schmidt told Fox News of her daughter. ‘I don’t want to say anything more than that but for people looking for her, I want them to look for her now, not look for that van anymore’
Taylor also appealed for members of the public to come forward with any information they believe could help the investigation.
‘We’re looking at everything from toll road readers to gas station sightings or payments – anything that would help us paint a picture of their travels. And there is a long trail here.
‘It will continue to go as a missing person – and then we will have to act depending on what we find.’
He has remained mum on her whereabouts, reportedly hiring an attorney and refusing to speak publicly about what happened. Asked about Laundrie at the press conference, however, both parents said, ‘We can’t comment on that.’
North Port police also told Dailymail.com that officers have tried to speak with missing Gabby Petito’s boyfriend at the house – but his parents refused to let them.
But their lawyer, Steven Bertolino, issued a statement for the first time today to DailyMail.com, saying ‘This is an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family.
‘I understand that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united 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.’
Schmidt says that she believes her daughter will return home
Nicole Schmidt, of Long Island, New York, gave a teary-eyed interview to reporters in Bohemia on Monday afternoon about her daughter Gabby Petitio, who has been missing since August 24
Forensic experts are now poring over the 2012 model van for fingerprints and any other possible clues.
‘We have the vehicle, we took it away very late Saturday night into Sunday,’ said North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor. ‘We take it, we process it for evidence – fingerprints, any evidentiary value that we think is possible.
‘So we have that vehicle. We are continuing to try to piece the things together. The situation is obviously very fluid.’
Gabby Petito of Blue Point, 22, and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, set out on their road trip in early July, first driving from Laundrie’s home state of Florida to Petito’s in New York
He confirmed Laundrie has still not talked with police. ‘We have not talked with him, we would love to talk to him,’ said Taylor.
‘He is under no obligation to talk to us – and he has not. And we don’t even know yet if a crime happened.’
Asked if police had turned up at the home of Laundrie’s parents to speak with him, Taylor replied: ‘Of course.’
He added: ‘We did not actually talk to him. We talked to his parents. And they did not want to make him available to do that.’
The North Port police said in a statement they are ‘actively assisting in this case in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police Department where she was reported missing’.
A statement added: ‘We currently have no definitive information that a crime took place here in North Port. With that said, the circumstances are odd.
‘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.’
Laundrie’s father, 62-year-old Christopher Laundrie, was seen mowing his lawn on Monday, and refused to comment on his son’s whereabouts.
Gabby Petito’s parents are trying to stay optimistic as they broke their silence Monday, with the mom saying ‘I believe she’s gonna come home.’
Nicole Schmidt, of Long Island, New York, gave a teary-eyed interview to reporters on Monday afternoon as she held a picture of her daughter and said: ‘We are looking for her. We are not focusing on anything else, but finding her… I believe she’s gonna come home.’
Neither Petito’s family nor her boyfriend Laundrie could be reached for comment at press time. The Suffolk County Police Department opened an investigation after her family reported her missing just before 7 pm on Saturday, the agency wrote in a press release
Vanished without a trace: Timeline of Gabby Petito’s trip and disappearance
July 2: Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie set out on their road trip from Blue Point, New York – in Suffolk County on eastern Long Island
July 5: The couple stopped at Kansas’ Monument Rocks
July 8: Their next stop was Colorado Springs
July 10: Petito updated her Instagram with photos of her walking at Grand Sand Dunes National Park
July 16: Petito’s smiling in a photo from the couple’s next stop at Zion National Park
July 20: Petito informed her Instagram followers that they were at Cedar Breaks
July 21: The next stop was Bryce Canyon National Park
July 26: Petito posted a photo relaxing in a tub at Mystic Hot Springs
July 30: The couple stopped at Canyonlands National Park Mesa Arch
August 12: They couple took a hike at Arches National Park
August 13: Laundrie posted an Instagram photo from their next destination in Moab, Utah
August 21: Petito’s father orders a meal for the couple via Uber Eats after they lose WiFi connectivity in a power outage in Salt Lake City, Utah
August 24: The couple were seen checking out of a hotel in Salt Lake City
August 25: Petito’s family spoke to her for the last time over the phone and she said she was in Grand Teton National Park
August 27, 30: Petito’s mom Nicole Schmidt had a text exchange with who she thought was Petito, but didn’t hear from her over the phone to confirm
Unknown date: Laundrie returned to the couple’s home in North port, Florida, without Petito
September 11: Schmidt reported her daughter missing after not hearing from her for nearly two weeks
Petito’s stepfather, James, added: ‘If anyone else has any information, if anyone has seen her, we ask that they call the tip lines and just please, just give any information you have,’ as he joined his anguished wife at the press conference in Bohemia, Suffolk County.
‘We just want her home safe with us.’
Schmidt said the last time she spoke over the phone with her daughter was on August 25 – and cast suspicion on the texts received from her adventure-seeking girl over the next five days.
She said she texted Petito on August 27 and 30, but now says she isn’t sure if her daughter was on the other end of the exchange because it wasn’t verbal and she didn’t share any photos of herself, Schmidt told Fox News.
She said, ‘It was just a text. I did not verbally speak to her,’ she said. ‘I can’t say much, but she’s no longer with the van. I don’t want to say anything more than that but for people looking for her, I want them to look for her now, not look for that van anymore.’
Asked about her doubts over the texts at the press conference, Schmidt again said, ‘I can’t comment on that.’ She also declined to share the content of those texts.
Schmidt said Petito would contact her at least three times a week. ‘We would FaceTime, call, text, frequently. She kept me updated on this whole trip… The first couple of days [she went missing], I believe she was in a place with no service. It was day 8 and 9 that I really became concerned and figured she couldn’t be off the grid for that long.’
She added: ‘I don’t know if I believe she’s in danger for a particular reason, I just believe she’s in danger because she’s not in touch with us and she could be alone somewhere, she could be stranded somewhere in the wilderness.
Neither Petito’s family nor her boyfriend Laundrie could be reached for comment at press time. The pair are pictured together in Canyonlands National Park in Utah
The couple had documented their conversion of a 2012 Ford van into a camper and their life traveling in it on YouTube and Instagram
‘And she needs help. And I know we’re not out there, but I hope everyone’s looking for her. I hope that the hikers and the rangers and the campers and everybody has her face and they’re looking for her actively.’
Petito’s father Joe, who lives in Vero Beach, Florida, is also pleading for help bringing his daughter home and addressed the public on Monday when speaking with the New York Post.
He said to ‘focus on finding her. I can’t implore that enough. All of the crap afterward will sort itself out. Please find her. I beg you.’
He added that on August 21, she let him know on FaceTime that they had lost power during a stop in Salt Lake City.
‘Everything was good. She had lost power to wherever she was at. She couldn’t get on the WiFi for whatever reason,’ Petito said.
Throughout the past week, neither parent heard from her and so ‘we got pretty alarmed and tried to do the missing-person report,’ he said.
He urged people across the country to be on the lookout for anything that seems ‘fishy.’
‘The hard part is that it’s the van life. They can go anywhere they wanted, unfortunately, in this situation. It’s the entire damn country,’ he said.
Petito, 22, who grew up in Blue Point, New York, was last seen on August 24 checking out of a hotel with Laundrie in Salt Lake City, Utah. The following day she made her final call to her family, telling them that she and Laundrie had traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Her last Instagram, posted on August 25, shows her visiting the Monarch Wall in Ogden, Utah with the caption ‘Happy Halloween’. The pair were heading from Ogden to Yellowstone National Park, just north of Grand Teton.
The couple embarked on their trip on July 2 from Blue Point, where they traveled for Petito’s brother’s graduation on June 17. She was reported missing by her mother to New York authorities on Saturday night on September 11.
‘[It’s like] drowning with your hands tied behind you,’ Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, told Newsday of his daughter’s disappearance. ‘You can’t describe it. There’s nothing you can do. You can’t control anything.’
The Suffolk County Police Department opened an investigation after her Schmidt filed a missing persons report just before 7pm on Saturday, the agency wrote in a press release.
Petito was described as 5-feet5, around 110 pounds, with several tattoos, including one on her forearm reading ‘let it be’.
She and Laundrie moved to North Port, Florida, two years ago from Blue Point, where she grew up and attended Bayport-Blue Point High School. Neighbor Keith Graves, 52, said Petito had moved in eight months ago.