Police in Florida are holding a press conference Thursday to discuss the case of a missing 22-year-old, Gabby Petito. The woman was reported missing on Saturday by her family after her fiancé returned home to Florida alone from a cross-country road trip.
Police and Petito’s family said her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is refusing to speak to law enforcement. Her parents have called on him to speak with investigators about her disappearance, including where he last saw her.
Petito was last seen on August 24 checking out of a Salt Lake City hotel with Laundrie. She is last believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Police have seized the 2012 Ford Transit van that the couple was traveling in, according to CBS affiliate WSFB.
Police in North Port, Florida, who are holding Thursday’s press conference, say they are now the lead investigators in the case. They are calling Laundrie a person of interest, which would be the case for anyone who was the last known contact of a missing person, CBS New York reports.
Laundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, said in a statement he has been informed that the North Port police have named his client a person of interest. “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,” he said.
“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,” Bertolino said. “As such, on the advice of counsel Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter.”
Police in Moab, Utah, confirmed on Wednesday that their officers responded to an incident involving the two on August 12. According to a police report, officers responded to a reported domestic assault but concluded there were no significant injuries reported and it “was more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault.”
Police say Petito was “crying uncontrollably.” Laundrie told police they got in an argument, Petito thought he was going to leave her without a ride and went to slap him.
The report says, “Brian explained he and Gabrielle have been traveling together for the last four or five months. That time spent created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments. After arguing — ‘Gabrielle had gone into a manic state.'”
Laundrie allegedly told police he and Petito both suffered from a mental condition and that neither take medication.
According to the report, police determined the altercation did not rise to the level of domestic assault, and Laundrie and Petito were told to separate for the night. Laundrie was given a hotel room.
Contributing: Alexandra Larkin