‘We saw the Florida tag’: Spring Hill couple spotted Gabby Petito’s van at Grand Teton National Park

Sarasota County

SPRING HILL, Fla. (WFLA) – When Shannon Baker learned about the search for Gabby Petito, right away she says she recognized the 2012 white Ford van North Port police recovered at the Laundrie family home.

“I feel so bad for this family,” the Spring Hill woman said in a phone interview Friday with News Channel 8.

Baker said she posted a comment on a Yellowstone Facebook page she follows.

“The very next day an investigator friend, retired police officer of (Gabby’s) father sent me a messenger message so I called him back,” Baker said.

Baker let the investigator know she and her husband spotted the van around 5 p.m. on Aug. 25 at the Jenny Lake parking area in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

“They added the roof rack and the ladder on the back and we saw the Florida tag,” she said, “and it was funny cause we didn’t see a lot of Florida tags out there.”

Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt said she last spoke with her daughter on Aug. 25.

The family investigator told her “another park-goer believes they may have seen her,” Baker said.

The FBI has issued a new missing person poster and pictures of Petito and the van are now posted throughout the popular National Park in Wyoming.

The Teton County Sheriff’s Office and the National Park Service are conducting a physical search for any sign of the missing 22-year-old.

Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt is also in Wyoming helping the search effort.

“We’ve just been out here basically handing out some flyers for the most part,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt calls it “unfathomable” that Brian Laundrie, Gabby’s fiancé and the only police person of interest, has not cooperated with the investigation.  

“You refer to her as the love of your life, everything seemed to happy,” Schmidt said. “You were on a cross country trip, with her, and suddenly you’re silent. Why? Why are you silent? Whatever may or may not have happened. You need to speak up.”

On Friday night, North Port Police revealed the Laundrie family attorney notified them to go over to speak with his parents because they had not seen their son since Tuesday.

Baker told 8 On Your Side she hopes other park visitors come forward with tips that can help solve this mystery that is captivating the country.  

“Somebody out there probably has something on their phone or camera they have to, so many people were there,” she said.

Baker said she searched through her phone, but unfortunately did not find any photos of Gabby or the white van.

The FBI has set up a dedicated website where people can submit digital media to assist their investigation to find Gabby Petito.

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