Gabby Petito case: Who’s who in disappearance, death & search for fiancé Brian Laundrie

Florida

Gabby Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11. (Source: Suffolk County Police Department)

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s been more than a month now since Brian Laundrie returned home to North Port alone without fiancée Gabby Petito, who was later found dead in Wyoming. Since his return, Laundrie has been reported missing by family as investigators work to piece together what happened to Petito.

From family members of Petito and Laundrie to investigators, here’s what we know about those connected to the investigation:

Gabby Petito’s family

Gabby Petito

Gabby Petito was a 22-year-old travel blogger who disappeared during a cross-country trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie.

The couple started the trip in Gabby’s white Ford van at the beginning of July. She documented their travels and “van life” on her Instagram account and a YouTube channel called Nomadic Statik.

Gabby was reported missing by her family after police say Brian returned from the trip in her van without her. Her body was found in Wyoming about a week later. Her death has been ruled a homicide and the cause of death, according to a coroner, was strangulation.

The 22-year-old was born and raised in New York on Long Island. She moved to North Port to live with Brian and his family about two years ago. Her parents said she had five siblings.

Joe and Tara Petito

(WPIX11 photo)

Joseph Petito is Gabby’s father and is married to Gabby’s stepmom, Tara Petito. The Petitos live in Vero Beach, Florida.

Joe Petito was vocal during the search for his daughter, both during news conferences with authorities and online via social media. He has said he last spoke with his daughter on FaceTime on Aug. 21 when he helped her order food in Salt Lake City.

During the memorial service for his late daughter, Joe Petito referred to Gabby as the “most amazing person I’ve ever met” and someone who “genuinely loved people.”

Tara Petito joined Twitter recently, posting a photo of herself with Gabby along with the message, “I will love you to the moon and back always and forever.”

Both of the Petitos, along with Gabby’s mom and stepdad, got new tattoos recently in honor of their daughter – “Let it be” tattoos matching the one Gabby had on her arm, as well as designs that Gabby created.

Gabby’s family said her stepmom and stepdad have been in her life since she was a toddler. Joe Petito said, “we always co-parented Gabby together and that’s not going to stop now.”

Nichole and Jim Schmidt

(WPIX 11 photo)

Nichole Schmidt is Gabby’s mother and is married to Gabby’s stepdad Jim Schmidt. They live in Blue Point, New York.

Jim Schmidt flew out west after Gabby was reported missing to help in the search for his daughter.

“She has four solid parents that love her dearly and one of us wanted to be there and he took that lead and he is out there and he said he’s not coming back until he brings her home,” Nichole Schmidt said at the time.

Her stepdad referred to Gabby as an artist. He and his wife, along with Gabby’s dad and stepmom, got tattoos recently that were designed by their daughter, as well as matching “Let it be” tattoos, similar to the one Gabby had on her arm.

During a news conference at the end of September, the Schmidts said they had noticed signs since their daughter’s death that they believe are from Gabby.

Nichole Schmidt and Jim Schmidt both joined Twitter at the beginning of October. Nichole Schmidt tweeted, “Mama bear is getting angry! Turn yourself in!” Jim Schmidt tweeted a photo of Gabby with the caption, “It still seems surreal. Miss you Gabs.”

The Laundrie family

Brian Laundrie

Brian Laundrie is the fiancé of Gabby Petito and had been traveling with her on a cross-country road trip.

According to a lawyer for his family, Brian flew home in the middle of the trip, on Aug. 17, to “obtain some items and empty and close [a] storage unit to save money.” He flew back to “rejoin Gabby” on Aug. 23, the attorney said.

Brian returned home to North Port by himself on Sept. 1, according to police. He was identified as a person of interest in Gabby’s case on Sept. 15.

Just two days later, on Sept. 17, Brian was reported missing by his parents. At the time, they told police they had last seen him leave home to go to the Carlton Reserve area for a hike on Tuesday, Sept. 14. A family attorney later said that, after further communication with the FBI, the Laundries believed their son left home to go hiking on Sept. 13.

Chris and Roberta Laundrie

Chris and Roberta Laundrie are Brian’s dad and mom. They live in North Port. Gabby lived with the Laundries for more than a year before she and Brian left for their cross-country trip, according to her family.

The Laundries have not publicly spoken about their son’s disappearance, nor the investigation into Gabby’s death. Their family attorney has released several statements since the beginning of the investigation and communicates via text with 8 On Your Side.

“Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him,” one statement released at the end of September read. “The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong.”

Brian’s dad Chris Laundrie joined law enforcement on Oct. 7 to help search for his son in the Carlton Reserve area. The family’s attorney said he “was asked to point out any favorite trails or spots that Brian may have used in the preserve.”

“Although Chris and Roberta Laundrie provided this information verbally three weeks ago, it is now thought that on-site assistance may be better,” the attorney added.

When 8 On Your Side asked if the Laundries have agreed to cooperate with law enforcement, the family’s attorney responded, “They were always willing.”

Cassie Laundrie

(News Nation image)

Cassie Laundrie is Brian’s sister. She lives in the Lakewood Ranch area of Florida.

Cassie Laundrie is the only member of her family who has spoken publicly about the investigation into Gabby Petito’s death and the search for her brother Brian.

She first spoke out in mid-September, before her brother was reported missing. During an interview with ABC, she said she and her family wanted Gabby to be found safe, referring to her as “like a sister.” She also shared photos of postcards Gabby had sent Cassie’s family while she and Brian were on their cross-country trip.

The Laundrie family’s attorney confirmed on Oct. 1 that Cassie saw Brian twice upon his return to Florida alone without Gabby. The attorney said Brian stopped by his sister’s home on Sept. 1 – the day he returned. Cassie was also with her family several days later when they went camping at Fort De Soto, the attorney confirmed.

Records show deputies were called to Cassie’s home several times over a two-week span in late September. According to a calls for service log from Sept. 19, Cassie’s husband James reported he was getting “messages from random people.” The messages included threats about “killing his family and kidnapping his kids.”

Cassie confronted a group of protesters outside her home in the beginning of October, and told the group she did not know anything was wrong until police began questioning her family on Sept. 11. She then did a second interview with ABC where she urged her brother to surrender and her parents to “come clean” if they had anything to do with this disappearance.

Law enforcement

Chief Todd Garrison

(WFLA photo)

Chief Todd Garrison is the police chief for the North Port Police Department in Sarasota County. North Port police were the lead agency investigating Gabby’s disappearance when she was first reported missing. The FBI later took over the case, as well as the search for Brian.

Chief Garrison held a news conference on Sept. 16 to voice his frustration with the lack of answers in the investigation and the lack of cooperation from the Laundrie family.

Garrison added that there was no criminality suspected in the case at the time and police were only investigating a missing person case with the sole focus of finding Gabby.

“Our focus is to find Gabby. My focus isn’t to bring Brian in right now, it’s to find Gabby,” Chief Garrison said. “Brian is exercising his constitutional rights and I have to respect that. But as of right now, the focus is finding Gabby.”

A reporter asked Chief Garrison at the news conference, “do you know where Brian Laundrie is right now?” Garrison responded, “yes.”

Josh Taylor

(WFLA photo)

Josh Taylor is the Public Information Officer for the City of North Port, including the North Port Police Department. He delivered several news conferences as the spokesperson for North Port police before the FBI took over as lead agency on the case.

He joined crews on the ground searching the Carlton Reserve during the search for Brian Laundrie to provide updates via social media and to reporters.

Taylor told WFLA on Oct. 8 that law enforcement did everything they could to keep an eye on Brian before he was reported missing.

“NPPD, Suffolk County, and the FBI were doing everything we could to keep an eye on Brian, within the law, based on the facts and evidence we had at the time,” he said. “I cannot speak to specifics and a timeline or what exactly was taking place.”

Commander Joe Fussell

(North Port Police Department photo)

Commander Joe Fussell works for the North Port Police Department. He led the search efforts for Brian Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve.

Fussell detailed the search, and the difficult terrain crews were dealing with, through updates released by Josh Taylor.

“We’re expecting to get wet by the end of the day and check the entire area for Brian Laundrie,” he said on Sept. 21.

Fussell also responded to social media comments, assuring the public that “we are not wasting our time out here” searching in the Carlton Reserve.

Michael McPherson

Michael McPherson is a special agent in charge with the FBI Tampa office.

He delivered an update on Oct. 20 to announce “what appears to be human remains” were found in the Carlton Reserve area where crews were searching for Laundrie. He also said a backpack and notebook belonging to Laundrie were found nearby.

“I know you have a lot of questions but we don’t have all the answers yet,” McPherson said. “We are working diligently to get those answers for you.”

Other

Rick Stafford

(WPIX11 photo)

Rick Stafford is the attorney representing the Petito and Schmidt families. He is based in New York.

In a news conference in mid-September, Stafford delivered a message from the Petito and Schmidt families to the Laundrie family, asking them to cooperate in the search for Gabby.

When Brian was reported missing, Stafford released a statement that said, “All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing.”

He also stood beside the family when they held a news conference and answered questions for the first time since Gabby’s remains were found.

Steve Bertolino

Steve Bertolino is the attorney representing the Laundrie family. He is based in New York, according to his website.

Bertolino was scheduled to hold a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 21, but canceled it on Sept. 20 “as per my conversation with the FBI.” Gabby Petito’s remains were found in Wyoming on Sept. 19.

Bertolino has provided information and updates to news outlets via text message. He has not held any in-person news conferences or interviews.

Dr. Brent Blue

Dr. Brent Blue is the coroner for Teton County in Wyoming, where Gabby Petito’s remains were found.

Dr. Blue performed an autopsy on the remains on Sept. 21 and, within hours, announced the manner of Gabby’s death was a homicide.

He released additional findings on Oct. 13 and confirmed the cause of death: manual strangulation or throttling. He added that he believes Gabby’s body was outside for three to four weeks before her remains were found.

Dog the Bounty Hunter

News Nation

Dog the Bounty Hunter, whose real name is Duane Chapman, is a reality TV personality and bounty hunter.

He showed up at the Laundrie family’s home on Sept. 24 and knocked on the front door. No one answered.

Kyle and Jenn Bethune

Jenn Bethune/ Red, White and Bethune

Kyle and Jenn Bethune are family travel bloggers from Florida. When they reviewed video they took from the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area on Aug. 27, they spotted Gabby Petito’s van.

The Bethunes said they contacted the FBI before publicly sharing their video on YouTube and other social media pages.

“The van looked like it was pretty much kind of abandoned,” Kyle Bethune said, narrating their Go Pro video driving through Bridger-Teton National Forest camping area. “Just kind of neat to see a Florida plate on the other side of the country, its not something you see all the time”

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