What Happened to Gabby Petito? Focus on the Boyfriend, PIs Say

  • Experts said police are on the right track naming Brian Laundrie a person of interest in Gabby Petito’s disappearance.
  • Private investigators said authorities may need to start looking for her body in Wyoming or Florida.
  • Laundrie’s attorney has said, “on the advice of counsel, Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter.”

Gabby Petito was reported missing by her mother this week after her boyfriend returned from a months-long, cross-country road trip without her.

Now, police say they are looking into the boyfriend as a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance, even as they say they have no evidence of a crime.

“I think the police are on the right track,” John Callicut, the private detective behind Florida-based Walton Investigations, told Insider on Wednesday. “Based on the circumstances, he’s certainly someone you would want to talk to.”

Private investigators told Insider that since the boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, is likely the last person who saw Petito, talking to him is key to figuring out what happened. Police will want to get Laundrie’s phone records and look into his internet search history and most recent GPS tracking locations, the PIs said.

Laundrie has retained an attorney, and so far police say his family has refused to allow him to speak with investigators.

His attorney has so far released two statements on the case. On Tuesday, the first statement said, in part: “On behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family.”

“In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this and the warning that ‘any statement made will be used against you’ is true, regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito’s disappearance,” Laundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, said in a statement on Wednesday. “As such, on the advice of counsel, Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter.”

A post shared by Brian Laundrie (@bizarre_design_)

The North Port Police Department, which is handling the case out of Florida, said in a statement on Wednesday that it does not have any evidence that a crime has been committed.

Callicut told Insider that police likely have more information than they’ve shared with the public, which he said is standard procedure in a missing persons investigation.

“In my opinion, police always have a little bit more than what they’re telling,” Callicut said. “They’re holding information back.”

According to a police report obtained by Insider, police had been called to a domestic disturbance between Petito and Laundrie in Moab, Utah, on August 12, but classified the incident as a mental health crisis.

Petito was last seen checking out of a hotel in Salt Lake City on August 24, according to local reports. Police say Petito’s last known location is believed to be in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

On September 1, 10 days before Petito’s mother reported her missing, Laundrie returned to his parent’s Florida home, where he and Petito lived before taking off on their road trip. He returned in the van that the couple had traveled in, which police have since confiscated to search for evidence.

Guillermo Hechevarria, a criminal investigator with Investigation Services Unlimited in Florida, said he believes Laundrie most likely left Petito alive somewhere in the Tetons. But he added that Laundrie retaining an attorney suggests to him that police also may want to look within a one-mile radius of Laundrie’s parents’ home for a body.

“Since he’s already lawyered up, there has to be an issue where he’s probably done something to the female and has her somewhere,” Hechevarria said.

Harvey Morse, a private detective with Locators International in Florida, said Laundrie’s behavior after returning from the road trip raises “a lot of red flags.” He said police will likely try to subpoena Laundrie’s cell phone, and search for campgrounds that he and Petito may have visited in the Tetons.

Morse, who is also a former police officer and the founder of the Florida Association of Private Investigators, said the probability of finding a person who has been left in the wilderness for more than two weeks alive is “minimal.”

“They could die just based on starvation,” Morse said.

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