Authorities aren’t ruling out a link between the cases
Authorities in a Florida city are investigating a possible link between missing woman Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito’s disappearance and the deaths of two women killed in Moab last month.
There is no evidence as of Thursday that the cases are connected. But North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said during a news conference in Florida early Thursday that investigators there “have communication going back and forth with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.”
“We provided them with whatever information we could,” Garrison said. “They don’t have any [murder] suspect information right now. … They told us that they’re looking at everything at this point.”
Petito and her fiance lived in North Port, Florida, before embarking on a monthslong road trip this year. Her fiance, Brian Laundrie, is considered a person of interest in her disappearance, North Port police in Florida said this week. Petito was reported missing Saturday. She last contacted her family around the end of August and was last seen at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming after checking out of a Salt Lake City hotel on Aug. 24.
Before the couple apparently headed to Salt Lake City, they were in Moab around the time of Aug. 12, the same day Petito posted images to Instagram of herself in Arches National Park. Moab police also responded to a “domestic problem” that day involving the couple that was later categorized as a disorderly conduct incident, records show.
No one was charged in relation to the incident, but an officer separated the couple for the night, driving Laundrie to a hotel and leaving Petito with the camper van so they could “relax their emotions,” records state.
“I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis,” an officer wrote of the incident.
Couple killed in Moab
Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, were found shot to death in a creek near their campsite on Aug. 18, police have said. The couple were last seen Aug. 13 at Woody’s Tavern in Moab. They were reported missing on Aug. 16.
Before they went missing, Schulte had told her friends that there was a “creepy man” around their camp, located in the South Mesa area of the La Sal Mountains near La Sal Loop Road, and that they had been intimidated by him, court filings in the case state.
She also told her friends that “if something happened to them, that they were murdered,” the records state.
Schulte worked at the Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, the same place where a witness reported seeing a nearby argument and apparent physical altercation between Petito and her fiance, which prompted the “domestic problem” investigation on Aug. 12.
“We’re looking at everything. … We’re not ruling anything out at this time,” a spokesman for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office told Fox News, speaking about a possible link between the two cases.
Grand County Sheriff Steven White did not reply to requests Thursday to clarify that statement. However, North Port police confirmed that they are working with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office in their search for Petito.
Person of interest
Laundrie returned to Florida on Sept. 1 — 10 days before Petito was reported missing — and has refused to speak with investigators.
“Right now, all we have is the missing person investigation,” Garrison said of the Petito case.
The police chief said investigators are focusing on Wyoming, where Petito was last seen. Although there are no search teams on the ground, local police there are “following up tips and leads.”
During their cross-country trip, the couple also visited Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park in Utah before making their way to Arches, according to Petito’s Instagram account, @gabspetito.
Garrison acknowledged that Laundrie is “exercising his constitutional rights” by not speaking to investigators, “and I have to respect that.” But he also expressed his frustration.
“Two people went on a trip, and one person returned. And that person that returned isn’t providing us any information,” he said Thursday.
At the same news conference, Gabby’s father, Joe Petito, expressed the same frustration. He asked for help from Laundrie’s parents, family members and friends.
“Whatever you can do to make sure my daughter comes home, I’m asking for that help,” Joe Petito said. “There is nothing else that matters to me now.”