The boyfriend of missing ‘van-life woman’ Gabby Petito returned home to Florida from their road trip alone 10 days before she was reported missing.
Police said on Wednesday that Brian Laundrie, 23, returned to his parents’ North Port, Florida, home without 22-year-old Gabby on September 1 in the couple’s van they had used to travel the country.
Gabby was reported missing by her mother Nichole Schmidt on September 11 after she was unable to reach her daughter. The last time they spoke on the phone was August 25.
Schmidt revealed to DailyMail.com that she received a text from Gabby’s phone on August 30 saying she was in Yosemite National Park, but Schmidt said she ‘knows’ it was Brian who sent that text to mislead the family and authorities.
If the couple were in fact together in Yosemite on August 30, that would mean Brian drove over 3,000 miles within two days to arrive in Florida on September 1.
Now police have officially named Brian Laundrie a ‘person of interest’ in their inquiry into her mystery disappearance as he refuses to cooperate.
Police said on Wednesday that Brian Laundrie, 23, returned to his parents’ North Port, Florida, home without 22-year-old Gabby Peon September 1 in the couple’s van they had used to travel the country
The above map illustrates the places Petito and Laundrie visited since the start of the trip leaving New York on July 2 to when she last spoke to her family on August 25 from Grand Teton National Park. The last text message sent from Gabby’s cell phone on August 30 to her mother Nichole Schmidt suggests she’d made it to Yosemite National Park in northern California – about 800 miles away, but her mother says she ‘knows’ the text was sent from Brian to throw them off
Policed released a photo of the Ford van that was seized from the Laundrie property Saturday night
‘Brian Laundrie is a person of interest in this case,’ North Port police said in a statement. ‘As of now, Brian has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details.’
The couple documented their road trip across the U.S. on Instagram and YouTube
Brian’s family refused to let authorities speak to their son when the 2012 Ford van was seized from their property late on Saturday night.
Earlier this week, Gabby’s mother told DailyMail.com that on September 10 she reached out to Brian and his mother Roberta Laundrie trying to reach her daughter.
‘I texted Brian’s mom that I was trying to get in touch with Gabby. I also texted Brian. I got no replies,’ Schmidt said. ‘I knew something was wrong. I felt something was off and I needed to get her reported missing immediately.’
The Petito and Schmidt family released a scathing statement on Wednesday as they continue their desperate search for their daughter.
‘Everyday the search for Gabby continues the Schmidt and Petito family becomes more desperate. They are frantically searching for answers and information in their daughter’s disappearance while Brian sits in the comfort of his home,’ the statement reads.
‘Brian claims he wants to sit in the background while we search for Gabby in the wilderness of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Brian left Gabby in the wilderness with grizzly bears and wolves while he sits in the comfort of his home. In his home!
‘Brian, how could you do this to Gabby? You selfishly remain silent while Gabby is all alone in the wilderness.’
The statement goes on to call Brian’s silence ‘reprehensible’ as they beg him to ‘do the right thing’ and give them answers.
‘Brian, whatever happened in Wyoming, happened. The only thing you can control is what you do now. Tell us where Gabby is,’ the statement continues. ‘You tarnish you love for her with your silence.’
Nicole Schmidt, of Long Island, New York, gave a teary-eyed interview to reporters on Monday afternoon about her daughter Gabby Petitio. Schmidt tells DailyMail.com that on September 10 she texted Brian and his mother Roberta trying to get in touch with Gabby, but neither replied
‘No service in Yosemite,’ reads the text from Petito’s cell phone, sent August 30 to her mother Nichole Schmidt, DailyMail.com can reveal. Her uncle Mike Schmidt posted this handwritten timeline of events
Gabby’s mother told DailyMail.com that she texted with her daughter on August 27, and then received that final text three days later.
‘No service in Yosemite,’ reads the curious text from Petito’s cell phone, sent August 30 to her mother Nichole Schmidt, DailyMail.com has learned.
The mother has refused to disclose the contents of her daughter’s texts, but tells DailyMail.com, ‘That text was NOT from Gabby I know it!’
She believes Petito’s boyfriend sent the message from her phone, possibly to mislead her family and investigators as to her whereabouts.
‘It was just a little bit weird, the things that she was saying,’ the mom added, though she wouldn’t elaborate.
Gabby’s step father James Schmidt arrived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming Tuesday and traveled to Grand Teton National Park today, where his stepdaughter was last seen.
‘I’m not here doing a search at this time,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘We’re here to make contact with local law enforcement, to have our faces out here so people can see us and to make sure we keep enough attention on this. Right now, it’s mainly about letting law enforcement do their investigation. This involves multiple agencies. It’s a huge area.’
‘I’m just landing in the airport and seeing the vast landscape,’ Schmidt added. ‘I’m in absolute awe. It’s a tremendous area. It’s breathtaking and we can see why Gabby wanted to explore this beautiful territory.’
Gabby’s family lashed out at the Laundrie’s in a statement Tuesday. ‘Brian is refusing to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her. Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida. These are critical questions that require immediate answers.’
Brian Laundrie’s parents Christopher and Roberta refused to let police speak with their son. He returned to their home on North Port,Florida on September 1
Police are seen outside the Laundrie family home in North Port, Florida, where Brian Laundrie returned in the couple’s van without Gabby after their trip
Brian Laundrie and his parents released a statement through their lawyer Tuesday stating that a search was being conducted in or near Grand Teton National Park, near Yellowstone, in Wyoming, while adding that ‘it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family.’
But Brian, 23, has refused to comment on her disappearance, including where and why he left her, driving their van back to Florida.
On Tuesday, Utah police have revealed they responded to an ‘incident’ involving Gabby and her boyfriend, just two weeks before she was last seen in Wyoming.
‘Our officers did respond to an incident involving Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito on 12 August 2021 however, neither Brian or Gabrielle were the reporting party.
‘Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges,’ Moab Chief of Police Bret Edge told Fox News.
It not clear what the incident was about.
But Gabby’s mother told DailyMail.com, ‘It’s irrelevant. Two people traveling together with each other 24 hours a day, it’s not going to be perfect, it was an argument, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.’
Schmidt told DailyMail.com that she’s now questioning everything and looking at things through a new lens.
‘Maybe the relationship wasn’t what I thought,’ she said.
She said she can’t understand why neither Brian nor his parents have reached out to her in the aftermath of her daughter’s disappearance.
‘It’s a very mysterious situation. We don’t understand why he’s doing this. Everybody’s assuming the worst and thinking he’s guilty of this. But I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe she’s just in need of help out there and that everybody needs to keep searching.’
Schmidt described how Brian’s parents had been warm and welcoming to Gabby during their relationship. She recalled a time when his mother even knitted her future daughter-in-law gifts for Christmas.
‘She loved her like a daughter,’ Schmidt said. ‘As far as I knew they were all very caring and treated her like one of the family. His mom was so excited about the engagement.’
The couple had documented their conversion of a 2012 Ford van into a camper and their life traveling in it on YouTube and Instagram
Gabby was last seen on August 24 checking out of a hotel with Brian in Salt Lake City, Utah . The manager at the Fairfield Inn was less that helpful, claiming to know nothing about the girl
She’s also questioning Brian’s trip back to Florida in August to help his father move their belongings out of a storage unit.
Brian left Gabby in the Fairfield Inn in Salt Lake City and flew back home to Florida from August 17 to the 23 to help his father empty out a storage unit where he and Gabby had their things.
According to Schmidt, Brian’s father offered to let them keep their belongings at his house so they wouldn’t have to pay for the storage unit.
He left Gabby at the hotel so she, understandably, wouldn’t be alone in the van. Brian then flew back to Utah and they left the hotel together on August 24.
Schmidt now wonders why it was necessary to move Gabby’s things during their road trip and what became of her stuff.
‘Where are her things?’ she asked.
Asked why Brian chose to lawyer up, she replied, ‘You know I wish I knew that answer, why.’
‘I know that’s the reason this story is so sought after is because it’s odd. The police have said it’s very odd. We don’t know what’s going on, and where is my daughter. I just want to find her.