It’s the latest development in the ongoing saga of missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito, who had been traveling with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, this summer on a multi-month, cross-country road trip.
After news emerged Friday that Laundrie was nowhere to be found, the family of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, issued a statement emphasizing that she is the one missing.
“All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing,” said Richard B. Stafford, an attorney for the Petito family.
Gabby’s mother Nichole Schmidt reacted angrily that Laundrie was considered missing, suggesting to DailyMail.com that Laundrie was on the run. “He’s not missing, he’s hiding!” she told the outlet.
Laundrie returned home to North Port, Florida, on September 1 alone and has thus far declined to speak with authorities about Petito.
On Friday, North Port Police Spokesperson Josh Taylor said on CNN that Laundrie’s parents had invited police to their home and claimed that they had not seen their son since Tuesday.
“They’ve called us there this evening and claimed they had not seen their son since Tuesday,” Taylor told CNN. “This is our first interaction with [Laundrie’s parents] here . . . We know that their son was back here in this community on September 1, she wasn’t reported missing by her family until September 10 or 11. So there’s already been a huge amount of time that he’s been back there in this community.”
Police had previously visited the Laundrie home but the family would not talk and instead provided information for their attorney.
Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino told CNN Friday that Brian Laundrie’s whereabouts “are currently unknown.
However, authorities emphasized that Laundrie is not a suspect in Petito’s disappearance.
“It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime. We are not currently working a crime investigation. We are now working a multiple missing person investigations,” the North Port Police Department said in a statement Friday night.
“We understand the community’s frustration. We are frustrated too,” the release added. “For six days the North Port Police Department and FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian’s Fiancé [sic] Gabby Petito.”
Friday was the first time that Laundrie’s family talked with police in any detail, according to the statement.
On Friday evening, Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt, said he learned of Laundrie’s apparent absence during a live interview on CNN.
“It’s the first time we’re hearing it,” he told CNN. “I am very caught off guard about hearing what we just heard.”
Petito’s mother reported her daughter missing on September 11 in Suffolk County, New York. The couple went to high school in Long Island but later moved to Florida.
Body cam video captured an interaction the couple had with police in Utah on August 12, which showed Petito crying and telling officers that she had Laundrie had been “fighting all morning,” which had prompted Laundrie to lock her out of their van.
The last text message that Petito’s mother received from her daughter was on August 30, saying there was “No service in Yosemite.”
The scene outside Laundrie’s home was quiet Saturday morning, according to WFLA-TV. However, on Friday night, protesters were calling on Laundrie to talk with investigators.
“Gabby’s parents want answers,” protestors yellled, according to WFLA-TV. “They deserve answers!”
Anyone with information is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.
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