Gabby Petito disappearance: Moab incident documented in police report

As police in Florida publicly declared that the boyfriend of a missing woman “needs to talk to us,” a report was released about a fight the couple had a month ago while on a road trip in Utah.

Gabby Petito (Family photo via CNN)

Gabby Petito, 22, was reported missing on Sept. 11 by family members in New York, who said they last were in contact with her two weeks earlier when she was traveling with the boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. He returned to Florida without her on Sept. 1.

“He needs to talk to us,” Josh Taylor, a spokesperson for the North Port, Florida, police department, said in a news briefing Wednesday. “We need to know exactly where he was, where she was, their last locations, and the fact that he was back here for 10 days.”

When the family last communicated with Petito, she is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, police said. She and Laundrie were traveling in her white 2012 Ford Transit van, which was recovered Sept. 11 at the North Port home she shared with Laundrie and his parents.

On Aug. 12, they were known to have been in Moab, Utah, because the police there spoke to them about a report they had been “engaged in some sort of altercation,” according to the Moab City Police Department.

The couple were pulled over in the van at the entrance to Arches National Park by officers looking into a witness’s report that they had struck each other during a fight in the parking lot of a Moab store.

The officers’ report (attached at the bottom of this article) designates Laundrie as “victim” and says that Petito had slapped him and he had grabbed her face and pushed her. It says: “Both the male and female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.”

At the officers’ suggestion, Laundrie and Petito separated for the night, the report said. Petito was described by one officer as “confused and emotional.”

“After evaluating the totality of the circumstances, I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis,” one officer wrote in the police report. No charges were filed.

In a statement released Tuesday, Petito’s parents, Nicole Schmidt and Joseph Petito, said Laundrie was refusing to tell them where he last saw their daughter and “refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida.”

The police department’s Taylor said that when investigators asked to speak to Laundrie on Sept. 11, “we were essentially handed the information for their attorney,” Taylor said.

An attorney representing the Laundrie family said in a statement Tuesday the family is “remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment” on the advice of counsel.

In a Wednesday statement, Petito family attorney Richard Stafford called on the young woman’s boyfriend to break his “reprehensible” silence and help in finding her.

“We beg you to do the right thing and help us bring Gabby home,” it said. “You tarnish your love for her with your silence.”

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