Sept. 15 update: Police have now named Gabby Petito’s fiancé a ‘person of interest’ in her disappearance.
NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) — The family of a missing North Port woman has appealed to the public for help in finding their daughter who went missing on a cross-country trip with her fiancé who returned home without her.
Multiple agencies, including the FBI, North Port Police and the Suffolk County Police Department in New York are investigating the bizarre case, which spans multiple states.
Gabby Petito’s family says she embarked on the trip with her fiancé in July.
“As a mom I had concerns of my daughter going on a road trip in general, but I felt safe they were together they had a plan, they had an itinerary,” said Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt.
The couple updated their trip across the United States on social media, and Gabby sent updates to her family several times a week. But by late August, those updates were less frequent. Schmidt said the last text from her daughter came on Aug. 30.
“I wasn’t getting responses I believe she was in a place with no service. It was like day eight or nine, I became really concerned. I figured she couldn’t be off the grid that long,” Schmidt recalled.
Police said Petito was last known to be in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, and had been traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with a Florida license plate, which police said has since been recovered.
According to reports, her fiancé drove the van back to Florida.
“Late at night there was a bright light, and they were towing off the van at about 11 o’clock at night,” said Keith Graves, the couple’s neighbor in North Port.
Police said at this time, the fiancé is not considered a suspect or to be associated with her disappearance. According to Petito’s family, he has hired an attorney and is refusing to cooperate with the investigation into their daughter’s disappearance.
8 On Your Side has reached out to the fiancé and received this statement from his attorney:
“It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the… family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family.”
“We love her a lot we miss her and want her to come home,” said Schmidt.
Police are asking anyone with information about Petito’s whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. The FBI Tampa Field Office is also looking into the situation. Tips can be sent by calling 1-800 CALL FBI or online through tips.fbi.gov.