Florida police name missing woman’s boyfriend as person of interest By Reuters
By Gabriella Borter
(Reuters) – The boyfriend of a 22-year-old woman who went missing while on a cross-country trip with him in a van has been named a person of interest in the case, Florida police said on Wednesday.
Police said that Gabby Petito, who lost touch with her family in August, was found in Wyoming.
Brian Laundrie, along with Petito and his family, returned to their North Port home on September 1, according to a North Port Police statement. Petito’s family reported Petito missing 10 days after she disappeared.
According to police, Laundrie is refusing to speak with investigators. Police from North Port are conducting the investigation in conjunction with Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Todd Garrison, North Port Police chief, stated in a statement that “we are asking anybody, including Brian to share with us information on her whereabouts during the past few weeks.”
Steven Bertolino representing Laundrie issued a defense statement on Wednesday.
Bertolino stated that intimate partners often become the focus of law enforcement’s attention when investigating cases such as this. He also said the warning “any statement made against you” is accurate, regardless of the fact that my client was involved with the disappearance.
The YouTube video “Beginning Our Van Life Journey” was posted Aug. 19. It shows the couple smiling, kissing and running along beaches. They also pose in front San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. And driving through cities and deserts in their white van.
The van was recovered in North Port by police on Wednesday and it has been processed as evidence.
Police said that Petito’s family had last spoken to her on Aug. 24. She was also believed to have been at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Reuters obtained a Moab, Utah police report which showed that Petito and Laundrie were the victims of an accident on August 12.
According to the report, police pulled over the couple’s van following a complaint from a witness. Petito and Laundrie had been travelling together for about four to five months. They were having more arguments since “that time caused emotional strain”.
Petito had been crying uncontrollably in his passenger seat as he approached the van, according to one officer.
One officer said that nobody reported that Petito had struck the female. Both the male as well as the female told police they were in love, and have been engaged for a while. They also stated that they didn’t want to see any criminal charges brought against them.
The report stated that Moab police concluded the situation did not reach the stage of domestic violence.
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