Murder of Gabby Petito sheds light on domestic violence

Gabby Petito

WARNING: The following story describes situations of domestic violence that may be upsetting to some. Free and confidential help and support for victims and survivors of domestic or intimate partner violence is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or online at udvc.org If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, please call 911 immediately.

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — There is a renewed attention to domestic violence after the death of 22-year-old Gabby Petito.

Bodycam video and witness reports show Petito and her fiancée Brian Laundrie having a physical altercation in Moab back on Aug. 12th.

There is a lot of national attention on this story and a lot of people have said there should have been an arrest made, however, ABC4 spoke with Greg Skordas, a defense attorney who agrees with how the Moab Police Department dealt with the situation.

Now the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition is applauding the bystanders who reported the couple to police.

This is what the 911 call said when a bystander called Moab Police :

“Uh we drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl. He was slapping her? Yes, and then we stopped they ran up and down the sidewalk and he proceeded to hit her and hopped in the car and they drove off.”

This was one of the first indicators that there was trouble in Petito and Laundrie’s relationship.

Police would follow up on the 911 call and eventually stop the white van ultimately questioning the couple about their physical altercation.

An officer said this, which was on body camera:

“This gentleman noticed because you had some marks on your neck, yeah. She has got some marks on her too. We are just trying to figure out what all happened.”

Critics said officers should have done more to help Petito, but Skordas believed Moab PD did the right thing.

“But under the circumstances, there wasn’t serious bodily injury,” said Skordas. “There wasn’t a weapon used so it made sense for police to separate the two.”

The Utah Domestic Violence Coalition said the witnesses who called 911 did the right thing by alerting police.

“These situations are tragic,” said Erin Jemison.

Jemison works as the public policy consultant at the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.

“We know the very worst outcome in any domestic violence situation is someone passing away, someone dying and we really send our sincere condolences to the Petito family,” said Jemison.

Jemison added she hopes this heartbreaking story sheds light on the prevalence of domestic violence around the country and in Utah.

While we know of this one altercation between Petito and Laundrie, we still do not know the details of how Petito died.

It was ruled a homicide, however, we do not know if that was related to domestic violence.

If anyone knows anything about the Petito or Laundrie case they asked to contact Denver FBI’s hotline which is 1-800-CALL-FBI. 

Their field office in Denver is 303-629-7171. 

They can also be contacted through their email: fbi.gov/petito

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