Brian Laundrie’s Sister Says She Hasn’t Spoken to Him Since Gabby Petito Disappeared

The police want to question Brian Laundrie after his fiancee, Gabrielle Petito, disappeared on a cross-country trip. Mr. Laundrie’s sister said she hadn’t heard from him since he returned.

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Police Investigate Disappearance of Woman on Trip With Fiance

The police in North Port, Fla., and federal authorities are investigating the disappearance of Gabrielle Petito, 22, who left for a road trip in July with her fiance, Brian Laundrie. He returned to his home in Florida alone in September and has refused to speak to the police.

“In June of 2021, Gabby and her fiance embarked on a cross-country trip with plans to travel across the West Coast, and visit state and national parks in the Western United States. They were traveling in Gabby’s 2012 white Ford van, and documented their journey on YouTube and social media. We have a picture of the white Ford van that they were traveling in. She maintained regular contact with her family members during her travels. However, that communication abruptly stopped around the end of August. Gabby’s family, and those in the community here and in New York who know and care for her are hoping for answers about her whereabouts. We have investigators working diligently around the clock as well as with the F.B.I. We share the frustration with what the world right now. So, you know, two people went on a trip. One person returned, and that person that returned isn’t providing us any information. Right now, this is a missing person case, all right. And our focus is to find Gabby. My focus isn’t to bring Brian in right now, it’s to find Gabby. Brian is exercising his constitutional rights, and I have to respect that.” “I’m asking for help from everyone here. I’m asking for help, everyone at home. I’m asking for help from the parents of Brian, and I’m asking for help of the family members and friends of the Laundrie family as well. You know, there is a tip line that you can call anonymously. Whatever you can do to make sure my daughter comes home, I’m asking for that help. There’s nothing else that matters to me now.”

The police in North Port, Fla., and federal authorities are investigating the disappearance of Gabrielle Petito, 22, who left for a road trip in July with her fiance, Brian Laundrie. He returned to his home in Florida alone in September and has refused to speak to the police.CreditCredit…Petito Family

Sept. 17, 2021Updated 11:41 a.m. ET

The sister of a Florida man who has declined to speak to investigators after his fiancee was reported missing spoke warmly of her brother in an interview broadcast on Friday and said that she, too, was hoping to speak to him.

The man, Brian Laundrie, 23, returned home alone on Sept. 1 from a cross-country trip with his fiancee, Gabrielle Petito, 22. Her parents reported her missing 10 days later.

In an interview broadcast on Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Mr. Laundrie’s sister Cassie Laundrie said she had not spoken to him since he returned to his home in North Port, Fla., near Fort Myers.

“I wish I could talk to him,” she said. “I’ve cooperated every way that I can. I wish I had information or I would give more.”

Ms. Laundrie said her brother is the type of person who does the right thing for his family and Ms. Petito.

“He’s a wonderful uncle,” she said. “He’s always been there when I need him. He’s been there every time Gabby has needed him.”

Ms. Laundrie became the first member of Mr. Laundrie’s family to speak publicly about the case, when portions of the interview were released on Thursday night.

“Obviously, me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” Ms. Laundrie told ABC. “She’s like a sister and my children love her, and all I want is for her to come home safe and found, and this to be just a big misunderstanding.”

Through a lawyer, Mr. Laundrie has declined to speak with investigators, the police said. He has not been arrested or declared a suspect in the case; the police have described him only as a person of interest, a vague term often used by law enforcement agencies to identify a person they believe may have been involved in a crime.

Todd Garrison, the chief of the North Port police department, said on Thursday that Ms. Petito’s disappearance was being treated as a “missing persons” case.

Josh Taylor, a spokesman for the department, said the police had no reason to arrest Mr. Laundrie, who returned to Florida in the van, which was registered to Ms. Petito and has not been reported stolen.

“The reality of that situation is that it was a common-use vehicle between the two of them,” Mr. Taylor said. The state law does not allow the police to arrest Mr. Laundrie any more than it allows for the arrest of a teenager found driving his or her parents’ car, he said.

F.B.I. agents, National Park rangers and the police in at least two states have been searching for Ms. Petito, since her parents reported her missing on Sept. 11.

She left with Mr. Laundrie in July in a white Ford van outfitted for a cross-country adventure, according to the police.

Speaking to reporters in Florida on Thursday, Ms. Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, said he remained determined to find her alive. “What I need from everybody here is help,” he said.

He called on Mr. Laundrie’s parents, the couple’s friends and other family members to talk with the police and the F.B.I., which has set up a tip line.

“Whatever you can do to make sure my daughter comes home, I’m asking for that help,” Mr. Petito said. “There is nothing else that matters to me now.”

In a letter, Ms. Petito’s parents and stepparents begged Mr. Laundrie’s parents to tell them “where Brian left Gabby.”

The case has drawn widespread attention, as reporters have gathered outside Mr. Laundrie’s house and members of the public have scoured the couple’s Instagram accounts, which depicted a seemingly carefree, nomadic “Van Life” in the American West.

Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie left New York on July 2 for what was supposed to be a four-month cross-country trip visiting national parks, said Ms. Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt.

Mr. Laundrie posted on Instagram that they were “downsizing our life into this itty bitty van.” Ms. Petito posted that converting a Ford Transit into a camper was “an adventure in itself.” The van, decorated with plants, small pieces of art and photos, was outfitted with a bed, tiny bookcases and a small wooden counter to prepare food.

But something apparently went wrong in Utah, her family said.

On Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah, Mr. Laundrie had “some sort of argument” with Ms. Petito and told her to take a walk and calm down, according to the Moab police, who responded to a report of a “domestic problem.”

Mr. Laundrie and Ms. Petito both told the police that they were in love and engaged to be married and “desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.”

Mr. Laundrie told one officer that “issues between the two had been building over the last few days,” a police report said.

Ms. Petito cried during the encounter with the police and said she suffered from anxiety, according to body camera footage of the episode. In the police report, Ms. Petito is recorded saying she moved to slap Mr. Laundrie because she feared that he “was going to leave her in Moab without a ride.”

Both told the police that the episode should be classified as a “mental/emotional health ‘break,'” rather than as a domestic assault.

Ms. Laundrie said a police body camera recording showing the encounter was a familiar scene.

“It looked typical of both of them,” she told ABC. “Whenever they fight, they would take a little break and come back and be fine, because that’s what you do in a couple.”

In the report, the police described Mr. Laundrie as the victim of the incident. They arranged for him to stay in a hotel that night while Ms. Petito kept the van. No charges were filed, the report states.

The couple had documented their cross-country trip on Instagramand in an eight-minute video that they posted on YouTube on Aug. 19. The video, titled “Van Life,” showed them kissing, scaling rocks and laughing at how the Utah sun had melted the chocolate in Mr. Laundrie’s granola.

“I love the van,” Ms. Petito said, smiling at Mr. Laundrie.

On Instagram, she kept a personal blog of their journeys. In many of the posts published before her disappearance, she was photographed smiling and posing against backdrops of nature.

In a series of photographs posted on Aug. 12, the day of the police encounter in Moab, Ms. Petito sat on a pumpkin-colored rock, shielding her face from the sun in Arches National Park in Utah.

Ms. Petito, the oldest of six siblings, had been working as a pharmacy technician to save money for the trip. She met Mr. Laundrie at Bayport-Blue Point High School on Long Island, Mr. Schmidt said. They began dating after graduation and moved two years ago to Florida, he said.

In their posts from 2020, the couple expressed excitement about their future.

On July 2, she posted a photograph of their first date, their heads together, wielding chopsticks. “Here’s a picture from our first date because I have so much love for you. Brian asked me to marry him and I said yes!”

The following day, he posted a photo of them smiling at each other. “My biggest fear is that one day I’ll wake up and it will have all been a dream,” he wrote. “Because that is what every second has felt like since the moment we found each other.”

Johnny Diaz contributed reporting.

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