Gabby Petito Case: Utah Police Chief of Department That Responded to Laundrie and Petito Incident Taking Leave

by Matthew Memrick

The Utah police chief who responded to an Aug. 12 Gabby Petito-Brian Laundrie incident is taking a leave of absence.

Moab, Ut. Police Chief Bret Edge will be off the job for an indefinite period. The reason for the decision was not released, according to the Moab Times.

Town mayor Emily Niehaus told reporters that Edge will be using federal Family Medical Leave Act time but did not respond to any other questions involving recent controversies with his department.

In the August stop at Arches National Park, police responded to a 911 call about a domestic violence incident. Officers on the scene determined that Gabby Petito and Laundrie would not face charges but that Petito was the primary aggressor. The couple had visible injuries at the stop.

The couple’s cross-country trip started on July 4, and they documented their time on social media.

Tragically, Petito was found dead in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sept. 19. Laundrie returned home to his parents on Sept. 1 without Gabby Petito but went missing soon after. Authorities are searching for the 23-year-old man.

More On The Aug. 19 Stop, Police

Police separated Gabby Petito and Laundrie for the night, and eventually, they left for Salt Lake City.

Since the incident, critics have lambasted Moab Police Department over the incident’s handling. Some have said Petito may have been alive today if the police had arrested one or the couple altogether. 

Before the incident, two judges said Edge’s handling of his officer’s misuse of body cameras might be a systemic problem.

One of the judges, Seventh Judicial District Judge Don Torgerson, said the Moab Police lacked “oversight” and that he would dismiss any future cases if the problem still existed when they came to his court.  

Montana Tourist Has Possible ID

A Louisiana man named Hunter Mannies remembered talking with a man who fit the description of Brian Laundrie.

On Aug. 26, Mannies remembered talking with a couple in a West Yellowstone bar before noticing a man. The man remembered Laundrie’s description at Bullwinkle’s Saloon and spoke to New York Post about the meeting.

The bar was nearly 120 miles from where authorities found Gabby Petito’s body.

“He was just mad at the world it seemed like,” Mannies recalled. “I didn’t pay attention to him other than that he and this other couple were the only ones in there.”

Mannies and his friend got to talking with the other couple. Their conversation involved hunting, guns, and politics. At some point, the man bashed on southerners and Republicans before the group asked where he lived.

The man responded that he was from New York and his name was Brian.

While Mannies’s information doesn’t necessarily help in the current Laundrie search, it could help authorities set up a timeline, among other things.