Gabby Petito missing. Nomadic Statik social media user not found after road trip with boyfriend to Utah as Brian Laundrie refuses to cooperate with police.
A New York woman who went on a road trip with her boyfriend remains un-accounted for despite the man she traveled with having returned home as the missing woman’s family fret about her whereabouts.
Gabby Petito, 22, of Blue Point, New York, was last seen on August 24 when she checked out of a hotel with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The following day she made her final call to her family, telling them that she and Laundrie had traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Up to then, the couple had been living and traveling in a van.
Petito’s final Instagram post, on August 25, shows her visiting the Monarch Wall in Ogden, Utah, with the caption ‘Happy Halloween’. The pair were heading for Yellowstone National Park. Except Petito never made it. What ended up happening to the woman continues to remain a mystery.
Laundrie has since returned to his Florida home with the couple’s 2012 Ford Transit van, which police said has since been recovered. He has reportedly hired an attorney and refused to cooperate with investigators, according to her family.
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‘Let it be’
‘[It’s like] drowning with your hands tied behind you,’ Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, told Newsday of his daughter’s disappearance. ‘You can’t describe it. There’s nothing you can do. You can’t control anything.’
The Suffolk County Police Department opened an investigation after her mom Nichole Schmidt reported her missing just before 7pm on Saturday.
Petito is described as 5′ 5′, weighing around 110 pounds, with several tattoos, including one on her forearm reading ‘let it be’.
She lived in North Port, Florida, with her boyfriend after moving from Blue Point, where she grew up and attended Bayport – Blue Point High School two years ago.
Gabby’s father Joseph, who moved to Vero Beach, Florida, in June to be closer to his daughter, described her as ‘very, very free spirited’.
‘Clothes didn’t impress her. Cars didn’t impress her. Experiences – that’s what impressed her.’
The couple started their trip on July 2 after Petito attended her brother’s graduation in New York on June 17. They planned to reach Portland, Oregon, and visit a family friend for Halloween.
Nomadic pair. Except one returns home without the other.
The pair had documented their conversion of a 2012 Ford van into a camper and their life traveling in it on YouTube and Instagram, and were developing a social media presence under the name ‘Nomadic Statik.’
Per their Instagram accounts, the pair began their trip on July 2 and traveled to Kansas’ Monument Rocks, Colorado Springs, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zion National Park and Bryce National Park in Utah and Canyonlands National Park since July 2.
‘Downsizing out life to fit into this itty bitty van was the best decision we’ve ever made,’ Laundrie wrote on Instagram in early July.
‘Sacrificing space to wake up in nature everyday has been no sacrifice at all.’
Petito and Laundrie had turned back from Utah in late August to evade wildfire smoke, Nicole Schmidt said, and had planned to go to Yellowstone National Park next.
Nicole said that she last spoke to her daughter on the phone on August 25, but she had received texts from her on the 27th and 30th. However, she told Fox she couldn’t be sure it was Petito or not ‘because it was just a text. I did not verbally speak to her,’ or whether her daughter had actually left Grand Teton, where Gabby was last seen alive.
‘I can’t say much, but she’s no longer with the van,’ Schmidt told the outlet of her daughter. ‘I don’t want to say anything more than that but for people looking for her, I want them to look for her now, not look for that van anymore.’
Schmidt said she would remain vigilant and keep up the search for her daughter.
‘I just want people to keep looking and not stop until we find her,’ Schmidt told Newsday. ‘She’s out there somewhere… We won’t stop until we find her.’
Schmidt’s husband and son TJ have posted two missing persons posters on their Instagrams as well as a picture of Petito, appealing for her safe return.
Both stated they were unable to ‘comment any further because there is an active investigation.’
Since Petito’s disappearance, her family has launched a GoFundMe along with a social media campaign on Facebook, ‘Find Gabby,’ where a number of national park visitors have claimed to recognize the pair’s van.
‘While we are working with the FBI, multiple law enforcement agencies, and outside resources to pursue any and all leads the family will need funds and resources to travel and pay for expenses related to an investigation and search on the other side of the country, any help is appreciated,’ reads the body of the fundraiser.
Anyone with information on the case, is asked to contact the Suffolk County Police Department at 1-800-220-8477.