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Fiance Now a Person of Interest in Gabby Petito Case

Relatives accuse Brian Laundrie of leaving her 'in the wilderness with grizzly bears'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2021 4:49 PM CDT
Fiance Now a Person of Interest in Gabby Petito Case
Police in North Port released this photo of the van, which is now in their custody.   (North Port Police)

(Newser) – Police in Florida have confirmed that a man who returned from a cross-country road trip without his fiancee is now a person of interest in her disappearance. Relatives of 22-year-old Gabby Petito say Brian Laundrie returned to North Port, Florida alone in the couple's van and has refused to say when he last saw her. "We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks," North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said in a statement Wednesday, per WFLA. "The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation."

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Garrison said Laundrie, 23, returned to North Port in the couple's white Ford Transit van on Sept. 1—10 days before her family reported her missing. "We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance," the chief promised. Police spokesman Josh Taylor says officers knocked on the door of the home Laundrie shares with his parents, People reports. He says officers asked to speak to Laundrie and his parents but were told to contact a lawyer. Taylor says anyone with information on Petito's whereabouts should call ( 800) CALL-FBI.

Relatives say Petito was last seen on Aug. 24, when she checked out of a Salt Lake City hotel with Laundrie, reports ABC. Her mother says that in a phone call the next day, Petito told her they were on the way to Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Police in Moab, Utah say they encountered the couple on Aug. 12, when a witness saw them arguing and reported possible domestic violence. No charges were filed. In a report, an officer wrote that the incident could be "more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault," Fox reports. The couple said "they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime," the officer wrote.

Petito's family called Laundrie "reprehensible" in a statement issued via their attorney Wednesday. They accused him of leaving Petito "in the wilderness with grizzly bears and wolves." "Brian, how could you do this to Gabby? You selfishly remain silent while Gabby is all alone in the wilderness," the statement said, per the New York Post. (Read more missing person stories.)

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