Van of woman missing after road trip found in Florida, FBI now involved in investigation

Gabby Petito

Courtesy: The Schmidt and Petito Family

(ABC4) – Federal officials are now involved in investigating what happened to a woman who went missing while on a road trip with her fiancé. That man, and the van they were traveling in, has reappeared in Florida.

On Saturday, the family of 22-year-old Gabrielle Petito, a New Yorker, reported her missing. She had been traveling with fiancé Brian Laundrie on a nationwide road trip. A YouTube channel had been created to document the journey, and numerous posts to both of their Instagram accounts show they have traveled as far as Utah.

The family of Petito tells Suffolk County Police in New York they last heard from her in late August. A timeline shared on the Facebook page dedicated to finding Petito – ‘Find Gabby’ – says she and Laundrie left New York on July 2. They road-tripped through Colorado and Utah, coming to the Beehive State around late July.

Within Utah, they traveled to Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches national parks before traveling to Moab on August 13. On August 24, they checked out of a hotel in Salt Lake City. This is the last time Petito was seen. The next day, Petito’s family says they received a final call from her saying she was in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Police in North Port, Florida, say they are assisting Suffolk County Police in their investigation into Petito’s disappearance. In a Facebook post Monday, North Port Police say while they are involved, there is not yet evidence of a crime within their jurisdiction.

“We currently have no definitive information that a crime took place here in North Port. With that said, the circumstances are odd. The vehicle she was traveling in was located here in North Port. So, we are actively gathering local details and any evidence to assist in finding needed answers.”

ABC4 affiliate WFLA reports police have towed the van Petito and Laundrie had been in.

A neighbor of the couple tells WFLA officials towed the vehicle late one night. North Port Police tell WFLA Petito’s fiancé is not considered a suspect or to be associated with her disappearance Petito’s family says he has hired an attorney and is refusing to cooperate with the investigation into their daughter’s disappearance.

WFLA reached out to the fiancé and received this statement from his attorney:

“It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the fiancé’s family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family.

“We love her a lot we miss her and want her to come home.”

Police are asking anyone with information about Petito’s whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. The FBI Tampa Field Office is also looking into the situation. Tips can be sent by calling 1-800 CALL FBI or online through tips.fbi.gov.

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