(Trends Wide) — An attorney for Gabby Petito’s family expressed skepticism Tuesday that the parents of her fiancé Brian Laundrie assist in the ongoing FBI search.
“The Laundries didn’t help us find Gabby. They sure won’t help us find Brian,” said family attorney Richard Stafford. “To Brian: We ask you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement agency.”
At a press conference with Petito’s parents and stepparents, Stafford said the FBI had asked them not to discuss the relationship between the families. He said they were confident that the FBI would fully investigate the case and obtain justice for Petito.
Petito’s parents and stepparents also announced the creation of the Gabby Petito Foundation, which they said would help keep his memory alive and help families in similar situations. And they revealed that they made the same tattoo with the phrase “Let it be” (Let it be in Spanish), a phrase that Gabby had tattooed.
“I wanted to have her with me all the time,” said her mother Nicole Schmidt.
For their part, Laundrie’s parents said they do not know Brian’s whereabouts, his attorney said in a statement Monday night.
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie don’t know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him,” attorney Steven Bertolino said. “Speculation from the public and some in the press that the parents helped Brian get out of the family home or avoid arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is simply incorrect. “.
Attention was focused this week on a camp about 75 miles from the Laundrie home, where the family stayed between September 6 and 8, according to authorities.
Brian’s mother, Roberta Laundrie, checked into an oceanfront site at the Fort De Soto camp on those dates, according to a Pinellas County Parks Camp registration report provided to Trends Wide.
Laundrie’s family attorney, Steven Bertolino, told Trends Wide that Brian and his family were at the camp on the 6th and 7th, and that the family left the camp together.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said the camp is not currently being investigated, adding that it is “not aware of any confirmed sightings of Brian.”
The mystery deepens
Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23, spent the summer riding in a white truck through the American West as she posted about their adventures on social media.
Those posts came to an abrupt halt in late August and Laundrie returned to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida, with the truck but without his fiancée on Sept. 1, according to police. Petito’s family, unable to communicate with her, reported her missing on September 11.
Petito’s remains were found in a camping area in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest last week near where the couple had last been seen, and a coroner ruled his death a homicide.
Meanwhile, Laundrie’s parents told investigators on September 17 that they had last seen him three days earlier when he left home with a backpack, saying he was heading to the nearby Carlton Reservation, a sprawling swamp that stretches over 10,117 hectares in southwest Florida, authorities said. A source close to the family told Trends Wide that Laundrie left his parents’ home without his cell phone and wallet, and that his parents were concerned he might hurt himself.
Local police spent more than 10 days unsuccessfully searching the Carlton Reservation. The FBI, which has taken over the case, is conducting a more specific intelligence-based search, North Port police said, and agents visited his parents’ home to obtain personal items that would help with the DNA match. .
Laundrie has not been explicitly linked to Petito’s death. Still, a federal arrest warrant charges him with illegally using someone else’s debit card and PIN number on August 30 and September 1.
Unanswered questions about what happened to Petito have prompted digital detectives to follow the couple’s online trail to try to solve the case, and reports have emerged that tension between the couple may have been mounting. The attention in the Petito case has also exposed the tens of thousands of missing persons cases across the country and raised questions about why some of those cases attract such intense interest and others do not.
Laundrie’s ongoing search
Laundrie returned to the Florida home he shared with his parents on Sept. 1 without Petito, and authorities have been looking for him for answers.
He was not initially wanted on any charges, but Laundrie now faces a federal arrest warrant for “unauthorized device use” stemming from his alleged actions following Petito’s death.
Laundrie allegedly used a debit card and PIN for non-owned accounts for charges exceeding $ 1,000 between the dates of Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, according to a federal indictment.
An attorney for Laundrie’s family emphasized in a statement that the order was not for Petito’s death, but was related to activities that allegedly took place afterward.
Two separate awards totaling $ 30,000 have been offered to anyone who provides law enforcement officers with Laundrie’s whereabouts.
FBI agents returned to Laundrie’s home this Sunday, as seen in a video recorded by Trends Wide. At least two officers could be seen at the home and one of them had a bag in his hand.
During the agency’s visit to the family’s home, “the FBI requested some personal items belonging to Brian Laundrie to help them cross-check the DNA and Brian’s parents provided the FBI with what they could,” the Laundrie attorney said, Steven Bertolino, to multiple media.
An audio sheds more evidence about a dispute
While her social media posts showed a happy and perfect life, an incident with the police that occurred in August revealed major problems in their relationship.
The first reports of the conflict between the two came on August 12, when a 911 caller in Moab, Utah, told the caller that he wanted to report a domestic dispute and described a white van with Florida license plates. .
“We passed by and the man was slapping the girl,” said the caller. He went on to say, “So we stopped. They ran down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, got in the car, and they drove off.”
Trends Wide obtained audio recordings from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office Monday that shed more light on what Moab police were told about “some kind of altercation.”
According to the audio, the caller at 911 told the officer that “a man hit a woman” and they got into a white Ford Transit van.
However, another witness, identified only by name, told investigators that Petito appeared to hit Laundrie on the arm and then climbed through the driver’s side door as if he had left her outside, according to a Moab police report. .
Police located the white truck and made a stop near the entrance to Arches National Park. Petito and Laundrie were in the truck.
In his police report, police officer Eric Pratt said Petito had slapped Laundrie, “who grabbed her by the face and pushed her back as she pushed him and the van.”
Another responding police officer, Daniel Robbins, said Petito had “gone into a manic state” when Laundrie tried “to separate from her so they could both calm his emotions.” The police officer reported that he had seen “small visible scratches” on Laundrie’s face.
On-camera video of the incident shows Petito telling police: “We have been fighting this morning … going through some personal problems.”
According to police, officers suggested that the couple separate that night and no charges were filed.
Moab Police Deputy Chief Braydon Palmer told Trends Wide regarding the handling of the dispute on August 12: “We are contacting an outside agency to carry out that investigation.”
Palmer did not specify the agency.
Trends Wide’s Leyla Santiago, Sara Weisfeldt, Dakin Andone, Travis Caldwell, Chris Cuomo, Rob Frehse, Sarah Jorgensen, Alison Kosik, Gregory Lemos, Laura Ly, Christina Maxouris, Taylor Romine and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.