Local agencies help conduct Petito investigation

JACKSON, Wyo. — Local agencies are working with the North Port Police Department (NPPD) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate the disappearance of 22-year-old Gabrielle Petito.

Initially, Suffolk County Police Department in New York had been the primary investigating agency for this case. But due to the involved parties residing in North Port, Florida, the NPPD has taken over the case in partnership with the FBI.

Late last night, Petito’s step-father Jim Schmidt, arrived in Jackson to work alongside law enforcement and meet with a detective, confirmed Teton County Sheriff, Matt Carr.

“We got in late last night [to Jackson], [local law enforcement is] aware that we are here,” said Schmidt. “Right now, the police are doing everything they can, and that’s all we can rely on right now is that all of these law enforcement agencies are working together collectively and they are doing their best to find out what happened and where she is,” said Petito’s stepfather in an interview this morning.

While in Jackson, Schmidt has entrusted law enforcement to take the lead in this case involving his stepdaughter.

“I know there’s a lot of stuff out there, a lot of people want to help, a lot of people want to get out there and do searches and stuff like that. That is not what we’re looking to do right now. We’re here to help law enforcement do what they do best and that is to find Gabby and that is all we want.”

Petito’s last known communication was from Grand Teton National Park on Aug. 25 in a phone call to her mother. Her parents filed a missing persons report on Sept. 11.

This afternoon Grand Teton National Park announced that they are investigating Petito’s disappearance alongside several agencies.

“Grand Teton law enforcement rangers are working with the Investigative Services Branch of the National Park Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Teton County Sherriff’s Office, Jackson Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to investigate the disappearance of Gabby Petito,” said the park in a press release this afternoon.

Petito had been traveling across the country in a white 2012 Ford Transit (Florida license plate QFTG03) since July 2 with her fiancé Brian Laundrie, who arrived home in Florida on Sept. 1 without her.

Petito had been traveling across the country in this white 2012 Ford Transit (Florida license plate QFTG03) since July 2 with her fiancé Brian Laundrie. Photo: North Port Police

The vehicle that arrived in North Port, Florida was fully processed by the FBI for evidence on Tuesday evening, confirmed North Port Police in a statement today.

The back of the Ford Transit Petito and fiancé Brian Laundrie were traveling in. Photo: North Port Police

Meanwhile, Laundrie has failed to cooperate with law enforcement to help aid in the search for Petito. North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said that Laundrie is “hindering this investigation” and have identified Laundrie as a person of interest in the case.

“As of now Brian has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details. We know Brian returned here to North Port on Sept.1, ten days before her family reported her missing on Sept. 11. We have no information that a crime occurred here in North Port,” Garrison said.

Additionally, on Tuesday night, the Moab, Utah police chief revealed in a statement that officers from his department responded to an “incident involving Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito” on Aug. 12.

“Our officers did respond to an incident involving Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito on 12 August 2021 however, neither Brian or Gabrielle were the reporting party. Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges,” Chief Bret Edge said.

Law enforcement agencies are urging the public to submit any tips they may have pertaining to this case. If anyone has seen the van photographed and has helpful information they are encouraged to contact the FBI’s hotline.

The FBI has set up a national hotline to receive tips for this case at 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).

About The Author

Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter who recently made Jackson home. Born and raised in Connecticut, she enjoys reading non-fiction, skiing, hiking, and playing piano in her downtime. She is most passionate about delivering and pursuing stories that directly impact the lives of individuals in the community. Her favorite aspect about living in Jackson is the genuine admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.

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