MOAB CITY, Utah (NewsNation Now) — Blogger Gabby Petito, who vanished while on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend in a converted camper van, is now at the center of a nationwide investigation.
Investigators say Petito, 22, was last in contact with her family in late August when the couple was visiting Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.
The trip was well-documented on social media until it abruptly ceased, allegedly somewhere in Wyoming. The couple documented most of their trip, which started in July, on a YouTube Vlog called “VAN LIFE.” The last posts to both their Instagram accounts were from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Petito’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, is now a person of interest in the case, refused to talk with authorities and is now missing. Petito’s body was found at a camping area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming in September, days after a nationwide search was launched.
Here is a timeline of what we know in the disappearance and death of Gabby Petito:
July 2: Petito, Laundrie leave for road trip
Petito and Laundrie leave New York for a cross-country road trip to national parks out west in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
The couple documents their travels on both their personal Instagrams and a travel account under the name “Nomadic Statik.”
Utah authorities receive a 911 call reporting an alleged domestic violence incident between two people believed to be Laundrie and Petito.
You can listen to the 911 call below. This content may be disturbing for some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.
The man told the Grand County Sheriff’s Office that he saw a man slap a woman while walking through the town and proceeded to hit her before the two got in their van and drove off.
“We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl,” he said. “They ran up and down the sidewalk, he proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off.”
Later in the day, Moab City Police in Utah respond to reports of an alleged physical interaction between Petito and Laundrie. Hourlong body camera footage from the investigation shows officers responding to the 911 call with Petito crying “uncontrollably,” saying the pair had been having “little arguments” that day. Authorities said Laundrie told officers the couple had been traveling for four to five months, which “created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments.”
On Sept. 30, bodycam video from a different angle was released that shows Petito telling an officer Laundrie grabbed her jaw, but she hit him “a couple times” first.
Petito and Laundrie reportedly separated for the night, with Petito keeping the van and Laundrie getting lodging assistance from police. In the report, Laundrie is listed as the victim, but Chief Bret Edge said there was not enough evidence to move forward with any charges.
Aug. 21: Petito’s father last speaks with her
Joseph Petito, Gabby Petito’s father, Facetimes with his daughter for the last time. He said he helped her order food in Salt Lake City.
“No red flags that popped out,” Joseph Petito said in a Zoom interview to NewsNation affiliate WFLA. “I’m trying to wrap my brain – Monday morning quarterback it, you know what I mean – still nothing is popping in my head.”
Aug. 25: Petito’s mother last speaks with her
Gabby Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, says she last spoke with her daughter on Aug. 25. She said the couple was near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming when she last spoke with her.
Aug. 27: Petito’s mom receives odd text
Petito’s mother said she received an “odd” text on Aug. 27 that read, “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls,” according to a police warrant. “Stan” refers to Petito’s grandfather, but her mother, Nicole Schmidt, told police that Gabby never referred to him by his first name.
Sept. 1: LAUNDRIE RETURNS TO FLORIDA WITH THE VAN
Florida authorities say Laundrie returned to his parents’ home in Florida with Petito’s van.
A public records request from Pinellas County in Florida revealed that Brian Laundrie’s mother Roberta Laundrie checked into a campground at Ft. De Soto Park in the days between Laundrie arriving home and Petito being reported missing. The campground is about 75 miles away from the Laundrie family home in North Port, Florida.
The record of registered campers shows Roberta Laundrie checked into “Site 001-Waterfront” between Sept. 6 and Sept. 8.
Family attorney Steven Bertolino confirmed the Laundrie family was at the campsite Sept.6 and 7.
NewsNation also confirmed that the FBI has surveillance video from the campground. Workers at the campsite told NewsNation they were not allowed to comment on the Laundrie family.
Sept. 11: pETITO IS REPORTED MISSING
Family members report Petito missing to Suffolk County Police in New York. Later that day, North Port Police in Florida confirm they recovered the van at Laundrie’s parents’ home. Police say the couple also lived there.
sept. 13: laundrie last seen by his parents
Brian Laundrie’s parents, through their attorney, said on Oct. 5 they know believe the last time they saw Brian Laundrie was Sept. 13.
On Sept. 17, their attorney initially told the news media his parents last saw him Sept. 14.
Sept. 15: Laundrie named person of interest
Florida authorities say Laundrie is now a person of interest in the case after Petito disappeared during their cross-country road trip together. While Laundrie was identified as a person of interest, police said he “has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details.”
Sept. 16: Petito’s family pens letter to Laundrie family, potential case connection
Attorneys for Petito’s family read a letter on behalf of the family, pleading with Laundrie’s family to help the investigation.
“If you or your family have any decency left please tell us where Gabby is located,” the letter said. “Please tell us if we’re even looking in the right place.”
That same day, Brian Laundrie’s sister became the first family member to speak on Petito’s disappearance.
“Obviously, me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” Cassie Laundrie, Brian Laundrie’s sister, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in a clip. “She’s like a sister and my children love her, and all I want is for her to come home safe and sound and this to be just a big misunderstanding.”
Authorities in Utah also said they are “not ruling anything out” in a potential connection between Petito and Laundrie, who were in Moab a day before a newlywed couple were last seen. The alleged domestic dispute between Laundrie and Petito happened outside Moab on Aug. 13. The next day, Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner were seen for the last time at a bar in Moab. Days later, Schulte and Turner were found dead at a campsite near Moab.
The search for Petito was still underway.
Sept. 17: Petito disappearance not related to double murder, Laundrie reported missing
Authorities announce they determined that the disappearance of Petito and the double homicide of Schulte and Turner were not related.
A family lawyer said that Laundrie was missing. Police searched the Carlton Reserve for Laundrie after it was reported he’d been seen there. Laundrie was reported missing after his family said they last saw him Tuesday while wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap heading into Carlton Reserve.
FBI Denver confirmed a body found in Wyoming is believed to be Petito.
The FBI said the body was found by law enforcement agents who had spent the past two days searching campgrounds. The body fit the description of Petito and was found in Teton Park.
The cause of death has not yet been determined and further forensic identification was needed, said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Charles Jones.
Jones said investigators are still seeking information from anyone who may have seen Petito or Laundrie around some camping sites located on the park’s eastern boundary, the same site that was the subject of a law enforcement search efforts.
FBI Tampa confirmed that they were executing a court-authorized search warrant at Laundrie’s residence, where he lived with his parents and Petito. No further details were provided. Images from the scene show police tape surrounding the home and agents entering with evidence boxes.
Earlier in the day, authorities said they have no plans to conduct a “major search” of the Florida reserve where Laundrie was last believed to seen. Police said they are still searching for Laundrie.
Sept. 21: CORONER CONFIRMS BODY FOUND BELONGED TO Petito, Search for Laundrie continues at Florida reserve
The Teton County coroner and FBI confirmed the body found Sept. 19 was Petito. The coroner ruled the death a homicide but the cause of death is pending final results.
A Petito family spokesperson said they would make a statement “when Gabby is home.”
FBI agents continued to search for Laundrie in the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Florida. Investigators had focused intently on the area after Laundrie’s parents told police he may have gone there.
Florida authorities continued to search for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve. They called in dive teams, though police say it was not in response to a tip. Police are also using drones and helicopters to survey the area.
Moloney’s Holbrook Funeral Home in New York confirmed there would be a memorial for Petito held Sunday, Sept. 26.
The FBI announced an arrest warrant had been issued for Laundrie. They said he was wanted for “use of unauthorized access device” related to his activities following Petito’s death. The FBI says between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 Laundrie used a debit card and a pin to access two bank accounts.
You can read the full indictment below:
A federal grand jury indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Wyoming alleges he used a Capital One Bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 during the period in which Petito went missing. It does not say who the card belonged to.
Authorities continued to search for Laundrie in the Florida reserve where he reportedly was last seen.
Sept. 24: Search for Laundrie continues, Petito’s funeral set
The search for Laundrie continued into its sixth day at the Carlton Reserve in Florida.
Duane Chapman – better known by the name of his TV show, “Dog the Bounty Hunter” – visited the Laundrie’s home.
The reality TV personality pulled up to the North Port home of Christopher and Roberta Laundrie around 4:30 p.m. and knocked on the front door. No one answered.
When asked why he was there, Chapman told a NewsNation reporter Brian Entin, “come on, you know,” and implored the public to share tips by calling 833-TELL-DOG.
“I want you to take a look at these pictures and I want you to be inspired by them. If there’s a trip you want to take, take it. Now. Do it now while you’ve got the time. If there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it now,” Petito’s father, Joseph Petito said. “Gabby is the most amazing person I’ve ever met. I’m asking you guys to be inspired by the way she treated people, all people.”
Her stepfather, Jim Schmidt, said Petito helped him realize that you can always make money, but you can’t make up for lost time.
“Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children. This is not how this is supposed to work, but it is an unfortunate reality,” he said. “Gabby loved life and lived her life every single day … She is an example for all of us to live by. To enjoy every moment in this beautiful world, as she did. To love and give love to all like she did.”
A handful of protesters gathered outside Laundrie’s Florida home, sounding airhorns and yelling “Justice for Gabby!” as the manhunt for him continued. Those in the group yelled, “Where is she?” and, “Tell us what happened to Gabby!” specifically addressing Laundrie’s parents.
The Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, sent this text message to NewsNationNow.com later that evening:
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him. The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong.”STEVEN BERTOLINO
Petito’s family spoke out publicly for the first time since the Youtuber’s body was discovered.
“She is with us,” her stepfather Jim Schmidt said during a press conference, also attended by her mother, father and stepmother. “The signs are there, you just have to look for them.”
The four family members displayed matching tattoos they had gotten the night before, stating “Let It Be,” as designed by Petito, “in the way she had it written on her arm.”
“I hope people are inspired by her,” Petito’s mother Nicole Schmidt said. “It means a lot to me that she has touched so many lives already.”
The search for Laundrie is still underway.
“The Laundries did not help us find Gabby. They are sure not going to help us find Brian. For Brian — we are asking you to turn yourself in,” Petito family attorney Richard Stafford said at the press conference.
The search for Laundrie continued with the focus shifting to where Laundrie went in the days he returned to Florida without Petito.
According to NewsNation reporter Brian Entin, one search was conducted at Carlton Reserve, with police and search teams focusing on areas of water. Authorities have continuously searched the 24,000-acre reserve. The other was Fort De Soto Campground in Pinellas County, Florida by Duane Chapman — known as Dog the Bounty Hunter. Laundrie allegedly went camping with his family at the campground in the days after he returned home to Florida without Petito.
Sept. 30: New bodycam footage shows petito describe fight, lawyer says fbi has laundrie’s phone
Petito told a Utah police officer that Laundrie grabbed her during an argument in newly released bodycam footage from Aug. 12, but she said she started the physical altercation.
Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, confirmed to NewsNationNow.com reporter Brian Entin that Laundrie purchased a phone after coming home from the road trip and the FBI now has that phone.
“I can confirm that a phone was purchased on September 4, 2021 and Brian opened an account with AT&T for that phone. (Not a burner.)” Bertolino said in a text to Entin. “Brian left that phone at home the day he went for a hike in the preserve on September 14, 2021 and the FBI now has that phone.”
Brian Laundrie’s sister, Cassie Laundrie, saw her brother in the days following his return to Florida without Petito, despite her previous comments.
“I haven’t been able to talk to him,” Laundrie told ABC News in September. “I wish I could talk to him.”
However, NewsNationNow.com reporter Brian Entin exclusively confirmed that Cassie Laundrie was at the Fort De Soto campground at the same time as the rest of the family in early September.
“To my knowledge, Cassie went for a day,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino confirmed to Entin.
When Bertolino was asked whether Cassie Laundrie was at the campground at the same time as her brother, he responded, “idk” meaning “I don’t know.”
Bertolino later sent a follow-up text to Entin saying:
“Cassie saw her brother Brian on September 01 when he stopped by her home and again on September 6 at Fort De Soto Park. Law enforcement agencies are well aware of these dates. Any prior communication by Cassie that does not reflect these dates is simply a difference of relating an answer to a question misinterpreted by Cassie or poorly posed by the inquirer.”
NewsNation’s Michael Shure spoke with a North Carolina deputy sheriff Sunday who said a man named Dennis Davis claims he gave directions to a man who looks just like Brian Laundrie.
Davis told authorities the man he saw in the Appalachian Mountains near the border of North Carolina and Tennessee on Saturday was asking for directions to California.
Tim Clemente, a former FBI agent, told Shure that this is the type of tip law enforcement agencies will focus on because it has specificity: time and place.
Cassie Laundrie confirmed that Brian Laundrie flew home to Florida from the western U.S. at some point on or before Aug. 17, five days after he and Gabby Petito were pulled over and separated by police in Moab, Utah.
The group asked whether Cassie Laundrie believed her brother killed Gabby Petito, and whether she thought he was still alive. Her answers to both questions were the same: “I don’t know.”
You can watch the full exclusive interview in the player above.
She told the group she did not know anything was wrong until police began questioning her family Sept. 11. She said she saw Brian Laundrie on Sept. 1 when he and their parents arrived in the family Mustang, not the van he and Petito had been traveling the country in. She also saw him at a family vacation Sept. 6, but said she had no reason to suspect any problems.
Cassie Laundrie said news media misconstrued her answer to a question about the last time she saw Brian Laundrie. In an interview with ABC News on Sept. 16, she said “I haven’t been able to talk to him.” That was taken to mean she hadn’t heard from him since Petito disappeared.
But she said Monday that answer was in response to a question along the lines of “what has been the weirdest thing of all of this?” and not “Have you spoken to your brother since Petito vanished?”
The family’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, said Friday that Cassie Laundrie was with the family at Fort De Soto on Sept. 6, which she confirmed to the group confronting her home.
She said she has not been able to speak with her family during the investigation and was critical of Bertolino’s statement.
“I’m in the boat where I’m getting ignored by my family and thrown under the bus by my family’s attorney,” she said.
When asked for comment, Bertolino said, “I do not represent Cassie Laundrie. Cassie’s comments can only be attributed to the press twisting my words and hers, which were only given to clarify prior mischaracterizations by the press, with the hopes of further sensationalizing this tragic story.”
The Laundrie family attorney said Brian Laundrie’s parents now believe they last saw him Sept. 13, a day earlier than they’d previously told investigators.
“The Laundries were basing the date Brian left on their recollection of certain events,” their lawyer, Steven Bertolino, told NewsNation. “Upon further communication with the FBI and confirmation of the Mustang being at the Laundrie residence on Wednesday Sept. 15, we now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday Sept. 13.“
Bertolino also explained why Brian Laundrie left his girlfriend Gabby Petito in the middle of a cross-country road trip, just weeks before her body was discovered at a camping area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.
“Brian flew home to Tampa from SLC on 08/17 and returned to SLC on 08/23 to rejoin Gabby,” Bertolino said in a series of texts to NewsNation. “To my knowledge Brian and Gabby paid for the flights as they were sharing expenses. Brian flew home to obtain some items and empty and close the storage unit to save money as they contemplated extending the road trip.”
Brian Laundrie’s father helped in the search for his missing son at a 24,000-acre Florida reserve.
“Today Chris Laundrie accompanied members of law enforcement into the Reserve to show them the trails and places Chris and Brian have hiked and which Brian was known to frequent,” family lawyer Steven Bertolino told NewsNation. “There were no discoveries but the effort was helpful to all. It seems the water in the preserve is receding and certain areas are more accessible to search. The entire Laundrie family is grateful for the hard work of the dedicated members of law enforcement that have been searching the preserve for Brian over the last few weeks. Hopefully Brian will be located soon.“
Bertolino told NewsNation that Laundrie was planning to join the search, but police delayed that plan.
When asked if anything was discovered at the reserve, Bertolino told NewsNation, “We were just asked to be on standby as they were focusing in on certain areas.”
The Petito family visited Florida for the first time since her death. They visited a makeshift memorial for her at North Port City Hall. They were able to take some of the items at the memorial, which city officials said they will be taking down.
Gabby Petito died by strangulation three-to-four weeks before her body was found, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said at a Tuesday news conference.
Blue declined to speculate whether he believed her boyfriend at the time, Brian Laundrie, was involved. “We are only tasked with cause and manner of death,” he said. “Who committed the homicide is up to law enforcement.”
He said only the cause of death, strangulation, and manner of death, homicide, would be released. Blue first ruled the death a homicide on Sept. 21.
The foundation held its first official fundraiser in Patchogue, New York. Organizers said around 200 people attended the event, raising nearly $14,000.
NewsNation affiliates WFLA, KTXL and the Associated Press contributed to this report.