‘Mental health crisis.’ New documents show missing 22-year-old and boyfriend were in an argument in Utah
Published at | Updated at
MOAB, Utah— New documents released by the Moab Police Department in Utah outline what happened before a 22-year-old New York woman went missing.
Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, went on a cross-country road trip in their white van, which they retrofitted for camping. They visited national parks in various places in the West. Laundrie came back to Florida, where the couple lives, with the white van but not with Petito. Click here for previous coverage.
Moab Police said Wednesday that they responded to an “incident” involving Petito and Laundrie on Aug. 12.
“The details outline a disorderly conduct call,” police said in a report. “Officers were dispatched to a domestic problem that had taken place near Moonflower Co-Op.”
One officer wrote, “The driver of the van, a male, had some sort of argument with the female, Gabbie, as I recall. The male tried to create distance by telling Gabbie to go take a walk to calm down. She didn’t want to be separated from the male and began slapping him. He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed him and the van. He tried to lock her out and succeeded except for his driver’s door. She opened that and forced her way over him and into the vehicle before it drove off.”
Police said Petito was “thinking he was going to leave her in Moab without a ride. As Gabrielle started to swing, Brian pushed her away to avoid the slap.”
The report continues to state that a witness saw Petito and Laundrie arguing over a phone. Petito reported that she was struggling with her mental health, which led to the incident that was reported to officers. Petito was in a “confused and emotional state” and couldn’t “stop crying, breathing heavily, or compose a sentence without needing to wipe away tears, wipe her nose or rub her knees with her hands,” police said.
Police redacted details about Petito’s mental and emotional issues, though Petito and Laundrie told them she suffered from “serious anxiety,” Laundrie had some issues as well and neither was taking medication.
Laundrie told officers that he and Petito spent the last four to five months together traveling. The time spent created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments. However, “No one reported that the male struck the female — both the male and the female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” police said.
“I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis,” one of the officers said.
Officers suggested the two separate for the night, and they both agreed to separate until the following day. Gabby had the van, while Laundrie was taken to a hotel by an officer. Nobody was charged in the incident.
Investigators in North Port, Florida, are naming Laundrie a person of interest in the case. He has not answered any questions for police regarding the disappearance of his girlfriend. Laundrie has hired a lawyer.
The Petito and Schmidt family released the following statement to media outlets on Wednesday:
“Every day the search for Gabby continues the Schmidt and Petito family becomes more desperate. They are frantically searching for answers and information in their daughter’s disappearance while Brian sits in the comfort of his home.
Brian claims he wants to sit in the background while we search for Gabby in the wilderness of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.
Brian left Gabby in the wilderness with grizzly bears and wolves while he sits in the comfort of his home. In his home!
Brian, how could you do this to Gabby? You selfishly remain silent while Gabby is all alone in the wilderness.
Brian, your silence is reprehensible! We beg you to do the right thing and help us bring Gabby home.
Brian, whatever happened in Wyoming, happened. The only thing you can control is what you do now. Tell us where Gabby is.
You tarnish (your) love for her with your silence.”
The national search into the disappearance of Petito is spanning across several states. The North Port Police department in Florida is heading the investigation, along with the FBI.
Petito’s white van was recovered at her home on Saturday, Sept. 11, the same day she was reported missing. The home is shared with Laundrie and his parents.
North Point Police said in a news release on Facebook on Wednesday that the van has been fully processed for evidence on Tuesday evening.
Police said they know Laundrie returned to North Port on Sept. 1, 10 days before Petito’s family reported Petito missing on Saturday. Currently, there is no information that a crime occurred in North Port.
“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through. We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks. The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance,” says North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison.
According to family, they were in contact with Petito the last week of August. Before the last communication, Petito is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. A family friend told EastIdahoNews.com that Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt, flew into Jackson, Wyoming, to help investigators in the search for Petito at the park.
Petito is known to be very active on social media, but her last post dates to Aug. 25. Her Instagram also became deactivated at one point, and investigators are researching why. Currently, Petito’s account is back on and normal, and it doesn’t appear that investigators took over the account.
The last Instagram post from Petito on Aug. 25 shows her in front of a butterfly mural in Ogden, Utah called The Monarch. The Monarch posted on Facebook and said they are looking through security footage.
The FBI has set up a national hotline to receive tips, 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).
Petito and Laundrie were traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03. Gabrielle, 22, is white, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blond hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads, “Let it be.”