NORTH PORT, Fla. — SAD UPDATE (Sept. 21, 2021): The FBI announced Sunday night that a body had been found matching the description of Gabby Petito. On Tuesday, the coroner confirmed her identity and ruled her death a homicide. Click here for the latest updates.
Prior update below.
The boyfriend of 22-year-old Gabrielle Petito has been named a person of interest in her disappearance, police said in a Sept. 15 update.
North Port Police say Brian Laundrie "has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators" or "provided any helpful details" that would lead them to figure out what happened to the missing Florida woman.
The previous story is below.
A 22-year-old Florida woman who set out on a cross-country road trip hasn't been seen or heard from for weeks, prompting family to report her missing, investigators said.
Gabrielle Petito was last known to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming before losing communication, according to the Suffolk County, New York, Police Department. Her family, who lives on Long Island, reported her missing on Saturday, Sept. 11.
Petito is 5-feet, 5-inches tall and weighs 110 pounds, according to police. She has several tattoos, including one on her forearm that reads, "let it be."
Her mother told KSL-TV that Petito left Blue Point, New York, on the cross-country trip with her boyfriend of two years on July 2. The two reportedly documented their travels along the way on social media as "Nomadic Statik."
"She wanted to cross the country in the camper van and live the van life and live free. This was her dream," Nichole Schmidt told the TV station.
Now, her family is calling on her boyfriend to help find the 22-year-old. In a statement, the Schmidt and Petito family said her boyfriend "refuses to help":
"The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives. Their beautiful 22-year-old daughter is missing and the one person that can help find Gabby refuses to help. Brian Laundrie was traveling with Gabby in the Grand Teton – Yellowstone area. They were traveling together in Gabby’s 2012 Ford Transit van. That is where we believe Gabby was last seen.
"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.
"The Schmidt and Petito family beg the Laundrie family to not 'remain in the background' but to help find who Brian referred to as the love of his life. How does Brian stay in the background when he is the one person that knows where Gabby is located?
"The Schmidt and Petito family implore Brian to come forward and at least tell us if we are looking in the right area."
In a statement, the North Port Police Department said it is assisting in the case with New York authorities. While the department believes no crime took place in Florida, it says "the circumstances are odd."
"The vehicle she was traveling in was located here in North Port," the department said. "So, we are actively gathering local details and any evidence to assist in finding needed answers." The Suffolk County Police Department in a statement said it was a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida plate QFTG03.
North Port police say the van was discovered at the home of Petito's boyfriend's parents.
"It obviously could be a big piece of evidence," said Josh Taylor, a spokesperson for the North Port Police Department.
"...But really, what's going to be helpful in this case is doing a lot of data forensics, where's the last place that the phones were at? When was the last time credit cards were used? Those types of things," he said. "When was the last time the vehicle went through a toll? I mean, there's all sorts of details that can be gathered to help reverse engineer... ."
At this time, police aren't saying her boyfriend is a suspect and stopped short of calling Laundrie a "person of interest."
"I wouldn't say that he's a person of interest at this point again just because we need to talk to him and we need to either rule that out or move forward. There's enough information that we have where we are very concerned for her health and well-being," Taylor said.
Petito's boyfriend returned to the area where the two moved a couple of years ago but has not publicly talked about her disappearance.
But, Petito and her boyfriend also made their presence known in Utah. Moab City Police say officers responded to an incident that involved the two last month. However, authorities say an investigation revealed there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges. What police were investigating was not shared by authorities.
Schmidt told KSL-TV the last text she received from her daughter was Aug. 30, and then she stopped responding. She figured Petito and her boyfriend lost reception but has since figured something has been off.
"She seemed OK to me at the time, other than I don’t know where the relationship was going with the boyfriend," Schmidt said.
A counsel for the Laundrie family also released a statement on Sept. 14. It reads:
"This is understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family. It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family. On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment."
Anyone with information about the couple's whereabouts is asked to call the Suffolk County Police Department at 1-800-220-TIPS. The FBI also is accepting information at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct model year of the van. It is a 2012 Ford Transit van.