Salem Radio Network News Sunday, October 24, 2021

U.S.

Police release August video of missing Florida woman, boyfriend amid dispute

By Peter Szekely

(Reuters) – Police in Utah released a video on Thursday of an August encounter with a now-missing Florida woman tearfully describing a dispute she had on a road trip with her boyfriend, who has been named a person of interest in her disappearance.

In bodycam footage, Gabby Petito, 22, and Brian Laundrie, 23, described a quarrel that they said occasionally became mildly physical to Moab, Utah, police who stopped their van after receiving a complaint about a domestic disturbance.

The hour-long Aug. 12 roadside encounter, in which the two were questioned separately, did not result in charges against either of them.

Petito and Laundrie embarked on their trip in June in her van, posting videos along the way on social media, police said.

But contact with her family stopped in late August, after she was believed to have been in Wyoming, police said. Laundrie returned to the couple’s hometown of North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1. Petito’s parents in Suffolk County, New York, reported her missing to authorities there 10 days later, they said.

Petito’s disappearance and Laundrie’s refusal to discuss it have developed into a nationwide mystery that police in North Port say they are working day and night to solve.

At a news conference on Thursday, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said the Utah video was unlikely to help investigators.

“Yes, they had a disturbance, yes, it was captured on a body camera – their interaction with law enforcement – but beyond that, I don’t know what it has to do with the disappearance,” Garrison said.

Although attention has focused on Laundrie, Garrison said police are treating the disappearance as a missing person case that investigators, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are working “around the clock” to solve.

“Two people went on a trip, one person returned, and that person that returned isn’t providing us any information,” he said.

Investigators were sifting through a large amount of information for clues, including analyzing the van, he added.

Garrison and Gabby’s father, Joe Petito, appealed to anyone with information about her whereabouts to come forward.

Laundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, defended his client’s silence in a statement on Wednesday, saying anything he said could be used against him, “regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito’s disappearance.”

In the Moab video, an often upset Petito blamed their dispute in part on her obsessive compulsive disorder, while Laundrie told officers “we just had a little disagreement there.”

Petito said she had hit Laundrie in the arm, and Laundrie said he had put his hand on her face to push her away.

The encounter ended with officers telling the couple that they would be placed in separate lodging for the night.

“I want you guys to stay away from each other,” an officer tells Petito. “From what you told me, what he told me, you guys have a bunch of little things that are building and building.”

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Additional reporting by Gabriella Borter in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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