Utah police have released chilling body camera footage featuring Gabrielle Petito, who went missing last month during a road trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, after the two were reportedly involved in an apparent domestic dispute during their trip and before her disappearance.
Police also say that they are not ruling anything out in Petito’s disappearance, including a possible link of a double-murder that took place in the same area around the same time.
What’s a very brief history here?
Petito’s New York-based family reported the 22-year-old missing earlier this month after she fell out of contact with them during a cross-country trip with Laundrie.
Laundrie, according to the family, is refusing to say where he last saw Petito, or even why he returned to his family’s home in Florida with Petito’s van — but without her.
Her family believes the last place she was seen was in the Grand Teton-Yellowstone area.
An attorney for the Laundrie family said, “It is our understanding that a search has been organize 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 re-united 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.”
An attorney for the Petito family responded, “The … Petito family [begs] 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?”
He added, “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.”
Florida police on Wednesday declared Laundrie a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance.
What are the newest details?
On Tuesday, a local news outlet reported that Utah police were called to an incident involving Petito and Laundrie, which took place two weeks before she was reported missing.
By Thursday, the
New York Post reported that Utah police released the disturbing footage of Petito and Laundrie in a domestic incident call.
The Moab City Police Department released the footage of their interaction with the couple after pulling their van over outside Arches National Park in Moab on Aug. 12.
According to officers in the video, the two were pulled over after the van, which was reportedly speeding, was said to have hit a curb while Laundrie was driving.
The video shows a sobbing Petito telling the officer that she was upset because she was apologizing to her boyfriend because she’s “so mean.”
“I have really bad OCD,” she told the officer. “I was apologizing to him saying ‘I’m sorry I’m so mean.’ We’ve been fighting all morning. He wouldn’t let me in the car before … he told me I needed to calm down.”
The officer also asked Petito if Laundrie had struck her, to which she responded, “I guess.”
When the officer asked her where Laundrie hit her, she clasped her chin in her hand in a grabbing motion and said, “He, like, did that with his hand.”
The officer then placed Petito in his cruiser while he spoke with Laundrie, who told him, “She just gets worked up sometimes. I try to distance myself from her. I locked the car.”
“I said, ‘Let’s just take a breather,'” he continued. “She had her phone. I was trying to push her away to say, ‘Let’s just take a step back.'”
At that point, Laundrie said, she hit him with her phone, leaving a bloodied scratch on the side of his head.
During a later time when the two were in the car together, he alleged Petito grabbed the van’s steering wheel to force him to pull to the side of the road after it was apparent that police were trying to stop them.
The Post reported that officers did not file any criminal charges, and instead classified the incident as a “mental/emotional health break” rather than a domestic assault. The Daily Mail reported that authorities also determined that Petito was the primary aggressor in the incident.
“Police said the couple agreed to spend the night separately instead of charges being filed,” the report noted.
In his report on the incident, responding Officer Daniel Scott Robbins wrote, “Gabrielle told me that she suffers from [redacted] with [redacted]. Because of her [redacted] and [redacted], combined with little arguments she and Brian had been having that day, she was struggling with her mental health, which led to the incident that was reported to law enforcement.”
The report noted that at “no point” during the questioning did Petito “stop crying, breathing heavily, or compose a sentence without needing to wipe away tears, wipe her nose, or rub her knees with her hands.”
The two also reportedly fought earlier that morning outside the Moonflower Community Cooperative.
According to reports, Moab police officers were notified of a domestic violence complaint on Aug. 12 identifying Petito and Laundrie as being engaged in a heated argument outside of the Moonflower Community Cooperative store. During the argument, Petito was reportedly seen striking Laundrie in the arm.
The reports noted that an unnamed bystander phoned police after they saw “Gabrielle hitting Brian in the arm and then climbing through the driver’s seat window as if Brian had locked her out and she was trying to find a way in.”
Laundrie’s attorney on Wednesday issued a statement on why his client was remaining mum.
“Many people are wondering why Mr. Laundrie would not make a statement or speak with law enforcement in the face of Ms. Petito’s absence,” he said. “In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focus 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. As such, on the advice of counsel, Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on the matter.”
Petito’s father on Thursday said that he doesn’t “care what happens” to Laundrie at this point.
“That can’t be my primary focus if he’s going to sit in the comfort of his home, you know, and get home-cooked meals, while my daughter’s out, you know, God knows where, you know, I don’t give two craps about him.”
He added, “I got to be out there to help her, because the one person who is supposed to be leading the charge is sitting home in his lazy boy chair, you know, not talking to anybody.”
“That’s my only daughter,” he said. “Right now I can’t give her a hug and she needs it, she needs help and she is nowhere to be found. … I don’t know, where do you even begin. We’re just doing what we can and it’s just difficult.”
He added that he did not want to speculate on his daughter’s condition because “when I put scenarios in my head it doesn’t end well.”
“I can’t focus on that,” he said. “If I think of any other type of scenario in my head [besides her being just stuck somewhere], I’m going to be on the floor, so I can’t do that. … I got to focus that she is hurt and needs our help and we’ve got to find her as fast as we can.”
Anything else to know?
In a bizarre twist, authorities investigating Petito’s disappearance say that they are “not ruling out a link to the double-murder of a young newlywed couple,” the Daily Mail added in its report.
Moab police are also investigating the shooting deaths of newlywed couple Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner — who were also living out of a van — after their bodies were found shot to death near their campsite in the La Sal Mountains on Aug. 18.
Friends discovered the couple’s bodies after the two reportedly told several people that there was a “creepy man” skulking around their campsite.
The two were last seen alive on Aug. 13 — just one day after police were called to the incident involving Petito and Laundrie.
Schulte, over the last four years, worked at the Moonflower Community Cooperative — the store at which Petito and Laundrie fought the day before Schulte and Turner were last seen alive.
Utah police on Wednesday said that they will not rule out a possible connection between Schulte and Turner’s murder and Petito’s disappearance.
“We’re looking at everything,” the spokesperson said. “I mean, anything and everything that was suspicious around that time or we’re not ruling out anything at this time. So we’re just investigating the information as it comes in.”
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Author: Sarah Taylor
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