- BBC News World
A 22-year-old American girl disappeared under strange circumstances while traveling with her boyfriend across the country.
Authorities have deployed a wide-ranging operation to find Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, who has not contacted her family since August, when she was visiting Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
The girl’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who returned home alone to Florida, is considered a “person of interest” in the investigation, according to police.
Laundrie returned home on September 1, while Petito’s parents reported her missing 10 days later.
Police note that although the young man refuses to speak with them about Petito’s disappearance, he has not been charged with any crime.
“We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us about his whereabouts in recent weeks,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said.
“Brian’s lack of information is hampering this investigation. Answers will eventually come.”
But Laundrie’s attorney, Steve Bertolino, defended his client’s silence.
“In my experience, couples are often the first person law enforcement turns their attention to in cases like this and the caveat that ‘any statement can be used against them’ is true, regardless of whether my client it had something to do with Petito’s disappearance. “
“As such, on the counsel of the attorney that Laundrie does not speak out on this matter,” Bertolino said.
The young woman’s family has asked Laundrie for answers, including information about when did you last see her and “why he left Gabby alone and drove his truck to Florida.”
“These are critical questions that require immediate answers,” the family members said in a statement.
At a press conference Thursday, Petito’s father urged the public to provide any information that may be useful in the investigation.
Travel across the country
The couple embarked on a trip in a white Ford Transit van in July, documenting the experience and posting regular updates of their journey on social media.
They were filmed smiling, kissing and running along beaches in a YouTube video called “Starting our life’s journey by truck,” which has been viewed more than 600,000 times.
Two weeks before the young woman’s disappearance, on August 12, police in the city of Moab, in southern Utah, received a call about a possible incident of domestic violence involving the couple.
This Thursday the police published images of a video recorded with a police body camera in which the young woman appears crying and acknowledging that they had been arguing more frequently.
The police officers who recorded the video recommended that they spend the night separately, but did not press charges. It is not yet known what happened next.
The van in which the couple is traveling is being examined by the police in search of clues that will help to clarify the mystery of the disappearance of the young woman.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.