What began as a quest for adventure has now turned to tragedy in the case of one Long Island family who is missing a daughter. Gabby Petito, 22, disappeared while on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, leaving her family without answers. Her last known whereabouts were reportedly Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, travelling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida plates.
Gabby was last seen in person by her family was when she arrived home in June for her little brother’s high school graduation. It wasn’t long afterwards that Gabby set out on a journey with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie—Gabby’s second cross-country trip. Rather than seeing the country from her cramped car, Gabby made the decision to downsize her life so it could fit into the aforementioned Ford Transit. A prolific social media user, Gabby had documented her trip on YouTube. In July, Gabby Petito wrote on social media, “All the places it’s brought us so far have been amazing! As soon as we got to the Great Sand Dunes, I didn’t want to leave, there was so much to hike!”
Gabby’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, reported that her daughter had been keeping in regular contact with her during the trip. Their last FaceTime was either August 23 or 24, and Schmidt continued to receive text messages from her daughter—though she was not sure if the text messages came from her daughter or not. Between August 25 and 30, Schmidt received a number of text messages, but she wasn’t able to contact Gabby or Laudrie after August 30. On September 11, her family reported her missing.
Investigators are unsure of Gabby’s exact movements between August 24 and August 30, as they have not yet been able to contact Laundrie. After returning to his home in North Port, Florida, Laundrie hired an attorney, and has not yet begun cooperating with the authorities. “We talked with his parents, who did not make him available,” said Josh Taylor, the spokesman for the North Port Police. This has left investigators and Gabby’s loved ones to try and piece together her movements from her social media pages. Family friends have stated that the last post on Gabby’s Instagram was very uncharacteristic of her typical sort of post. Gabby’s friend, Nikki Passannante told the New York Post, “A two-word caption is very odd for Gabby. Usually, it’s a deep meaningful caption or otherwise she’ll detail her travels. This doesn’t really seem like she posted it, in my opinion.” Lanundrie has been described as missing by investigators who hope to speak with him and get any information on Gabby’s last known whereabouts.
This case has attracted fervent media attention, which was only further inflamed by the discovery of a body in Grand Tenton National Park. Investigators have said that the body’s description matches Petito, but will not have confirmation on this until an autopsy can be performed on Tuesday.
Petito was described by police and on a GoFundMe page as 5 feet 5, 110 pounds, blond with blue eyes.
“She has a triangle tattoo on left arm with flowers and a ‘Let it be’ tattoo written on her right arm. She has a Belly button piercing,” the post said.