Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Missing Gabby Petito: Utah police detail physical altercation between couple days before she disappeared

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Roughly two weeks before Gabby Petito went missing in Wyoming, she got into a physical fight with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, on a street in downtown Moab, Utah, according to a police report obtained by Fox News.

A witness called 911 around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 over “possible domestic violence” near Moonflower Community Cooperative and said he saw Petito and Laundrie arguing over a phone. 

“The driver of the van, a male, had some sort of argument with the female, Gabbie,” a responding officer wrote in the report, citing conversations he had with Petito, Laundrie, and the witness. 

“The male tried to create distance by telling Gabbie to go take a walk to calm down, she didn’t want to be separated from the male, and began slapping him,” the report said. “He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van, he tried to lock her out and succeeded except for his driver’s door, she opened that and forced her way over him and into the vehicle before it drove off.”

A responding officer initially wrote that he believes “it was reported the male had been observed to have assaulted the female,” but later wrote that “no one reported that the male struck the female.”

An officer eventually pulled the van over and said that when he approached, Petito was “crying uncontrollably” in the passenger seat. 

One of the responding officers said the incident can be “more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault,” and that “no significant injuries” were reported. 

Laundrie stayed in a hotel that night, while Petito stayed with the van, according to the report. 

“Both the male and the female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” the report said. 

Petito’s mom, Nicole Schmidt, said that the incident was just a result of pent-up stress from traveling together. 

“Put yourself with another person in a van 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for months, and you might have an argument, right?” she told Fox News on Wednesday. “It’s irrelevant. It’s not a big deal.”


The couple set out on a road trip to tour National Parks in early July, traveling through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and eventually Wyoming. 

Petito’s last known location was Aug. 25 in Grand Teton National Park. Schmidt told Fox News that she received a text from Petito’s phone on Aug. 30, saying that there was no service in Yellowstone, but she does not believe that message was sent by her daughter. 

Laundrie, meanwhile, drove back to the Florida Gulf Coast town of North Port, where their trip began, on Sept. 1, and the van was recovered by police at his family’s home on Sept. 11. 

The North Port Police Department named him a person of interest in the investigation on Wednesday and said he is not cooperating with authorities. 

“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through. We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks. The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said Wednesday. 


Petito’s family has also expressed frustration at Laundrie’s lack of cooperation. 

“This is supposed to be the love of your life, and you definitely left her in late August and were home safe on September 1st without her,” Schmidt told Fox News on Wednesday. “Why aren’t you telling us anything?”

Fox News’s Michael Ruiz and Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report. 

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