Search continues for woman who disappeared during cross-country trip

NORTH POINT, Fla. (NEWS 12/CNN) – The investigation continues into the disappearance of a 22-year-old woman who went missing on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend. Police say he returned home but she didn’t and now, he’s not helping investigators.

Investigators are growing increasingly concerned about the well-being of 22-year-old Gabby Petito. The Blue Point native, who was on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, hasn’t been seen since August 25th when she Facetimed with her mother from Wyoming.

News 12 Long Island’s Eileen Lehpamer spoke with Josh Taylor, the public information officer for the North Port Florida Police Department. That is where Petito had been living for the last two-and-a-half years with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.

“There’s the possibility that something bad happened to Gabby,” Taylor said. “We’re all hopeful that she’ll be back home. But certainly, there are a lot of signs that… certainly have you concerned for her well-being.”

Police confirmed that Laundrie is back home in Florida. And so is their van, but no Petito and Taylor said Laundrie isn’t helping investigators.

“Certainly, our investigation into the disappearance of Gabby leads us to… to want to speak with him, but we have not spoken with Brian directly at this point,” explained Taylor. “I think most people would find that very odd.”

News 12 reached out to Laundrie’s attorney who is located on Long Island. He emailed a statement back saying in part, “It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”

Meanwhile, Petito’s mother and stepfather pleaded with the public yesterday to keep an eye out for Gabby. Nicole Schmidt, Gabby’s mother, said, “I hope that everybody’s looking for her.”

Taylor said any information from the public is helpful as the FBI searches the van for physical evidence and as they try to retrace Petito’s last known steps. “Using digital evidence, whether it be through cell phone data or financials, or even something as simple as a toll booth license plate,” Taylor said.

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