By: Jeff Tavss
NORTH PORT, Fla. — The boyfriend of Gabby Petito, a woman missing since traveling through Utah last month, has been named a person of interest in her disappearance by police.
In a Facebook post Wednesday, the North Port (Fla.) Police Department confirmed that Brian Laundrie has not cooperated in the investigation and that he is now “a person of interest in this case.”
North Port police is the primary investigating agency in the case, along with the FBI, due to the van Petito and Laundrie were traveling in was recovered in Florida on Sept. 11, and that the couple lived with his parents in the city.
After Laundrie was named a person of interest by police on Wednesday, the lawyer for Petito’s mother released a statement.
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.
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.
Brian, your silence is reprehensible! We beg you to do the right thing and help us bring Gabby home.
Brian, whatever happened in Wyoming, happened. The only thing you can control is what you do now. Tell us where Gabby is.
You tarnish your love for her with your silence.
The white 2012 Ford Transit van was processed for evidence on Tuesday. Officials say Laundrie drove it home to Florida without Petito on Sept. 1. Petito’s family reported her missing 10 days later.
Officials appear frustrated with Laundrie’s refusal to provide any details about Petito’s disappearance.
“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. The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance,” said North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison.
Later on Wednesday, Laundrie’s lawyer, Steven P. Bertolino released a statement.
Many people are wondering why Mr. Laundrie would not make a statement or speak with law enforcement in the face of Ms. Petito’s absence. In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this and the warning that “any statement made will be used against you” is true, regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito’s disappearance.
As such, on the advice of counsel Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter.
I have been informed that the North Port, Florida police have named Brian Laundrie as a “person of interest” in this matter. This formality has not really changed the circumstances of Mr. Laundrie being the focus and attention of law enforcement and Mr. Laundrie will continue to remain silent on the advice of counsel.
Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23, were on a trip to several national parks in Utah and Wyoming when she was last seen in August. Petito made her last social media post to Instagram on Aug. 25 from an Ogden business.
The Moab Police Department said its officers responded to an incident involving the couple on Aug. 12, but an investigation determined there was not sufficient evidence for criminal charges and no other details were released.
This story was originally published September 15, 2021, by KSTU in Salt Lake City, an E.W. Scripps Company.