The search for 22-year-old Gabby Petito continues into its third day. On Saturday, her mother, Nicole Schmidt, reported her missing to the Suffolk County Police Department, the area in which Petito grew up. The last time Schmidt spoke to her daughter was when Petito was in Grand Teton National Park.
Since early July, Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, have been exploring some of the country’s most popular national parks. The pair, engaged since June 2020, made their way from their home in Florida to New York and then out west. Prior to their big trip, Petito and Laundrie had repurposed a white van into a camper for their travels.
Once police launched the investigation, they quickly located the van and Laundrie, but Petito was nowhere in sight. According to authorities, Laundrie drove the van back to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida without his wife-to-be.
“We currently have no definitive information that a crime took place here in North Port. With that said, the circumstances are odd,” the North Port Police Department stated, according to Fox News. “So, we are actively gathering local details and any evidence to assist in finding needed answers.”
Currently, police have not identified Laundrie as a person of interest in the case. Laundrie has yet to provide a statement regarding his fiancé’s state.
Police Have to ‘Work Backward’ While National Parks Explorer Remains Missing
Once the two began touring national parks, Petito kept her family and social media followers updated with their adventures. She frequently posted photos of their location as they explored some of the nation’s most breathtaking views, all of which seemed to capture a smiling and giddy 22-year-old woman. The good times kept rolling until August 25 when communication between Schmidt and her daughter ceased.
Her online activity, too, seemed to hit a hiatus. Likely, the mother didn’t want to think anything sinister happened to Petito, so she waited until Saturday, September 11 to officially file a missing person’s report. The last photo with a location was taken at Arches National Park in Utah.
Without any concrete evidence of foul play found at the Laundries home, police will have to use cell phone data, park video cameras and other digital forensics to pinpoint the national parks explorer’s whereabouts.
“What they’re having to do is work backward,” said Washington, D.C. attorney and former investigator Ted Williams. “Since it is alleged that the last time that anyone actually spoke to her was August the 25th, and that was allegedly from the Grand Teton National Park there in Wyoming, they’re going to look at cell phone towers in that area.”
In the meantime, investigators urge anyone with information regarding Gabby Petito’s disappearance to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS or the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Petito is 5’5″ and 110 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She has a tattoo on her finger and one on her right arm that says “Let it be.”