NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) – North Port police have named Gabby Petito’s fiancé, Brian Laundrie, a ‘person of interest’ in her disappearance. Authorities have yet to speak with him as his family deferred investigators to their attorney based out of New York when the 22-year-old woman was first reported missing on Sept. 11.
Police say Laundrie returned back to Florida without Petito on Sept. 1, two days after Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt said she received her last text from her daughter.
“When his mother didn’t text me back the day I was trying to report her missing, I knew that something was wrong,” said Schmidt. “My mother instinct went off and that is why I went to the fifth precinct and my angel Detective Tracy Barry at the fifth precinct on Long Island, she was the only one that wanted to report my daughter missing,” she said.
Petito was last known to be in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, and had been traveling with her Laundrie in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with a Florida license plate, which police said has since been recovered.
“We felt we needed somebody there from the family. 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,” said Schmidt.
Investigators with NPPD are continuing to work around the clock to connect the dots in Petito’s disappearance. They’re pleading with Laundrie to step up and cooperate with them.
“We don’t know what Brian knows. I mean, that is the bottom line,” said police spokesperson Joshua Taylor. “He needs to talk to us. We need to know exactly where he was, where she was, their last locations… We need to understand those details. They put out a release yesterday saying they remain in the background. That is not good enough. We need the details,” said Taylor.