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FBI Serves Search Warrant, Strange Last Text: Mystery Deepens in Gabby Petito Story

FBI agents swarmed the home of Christopher and Roberta Laundrie Monday morning, carrying a warrant to search their home in connection with the Gabby Petito investigation. It was the start of a hectic day that brought few answers to the many questions swirling around Petito’s cross-country trip with boyfriend Brian Laundrie — a trip that ended with Laundrie driving home alone and Petito dead in a remote camping area in Wyoming.

Just before the FBI arrived at the Laundries’ home, North Point, Florida, police announced they were ending their search of the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve, where Laundrie’s parents told investigators he’d gone last Tuesday. Teams searched the flooded reserve all day on Saturday and Sunday but on Monday said they’d exhausted “all avenues” and would not return to the reserve. They were still searching for Laundrie, they said.

Christopher and Roberta Laundrie told detectives on Friday that their son had left the house to go hiking three days earlier and they hadn’t heard from him since. That was the day after North Point Police Chief Todd Garrison told reporters police knew exactly where Petito’s boyfriend was.

CrimeOnline’s Nancy Grace wasn’t so sure, telling “America’s Newsroom” on Fox that she wanted to know how Laundrie got out and nobody saw him leave.

“With all of the press and citizens outside the home, how did Laundrie get out and nobody noticed?” she said.  ” … Did he really go to Carlton Reserve? Why do we believe that? Other than that’s what the parents said. I don’t understand how the car could have left with him in it. And then the parents bring it back, and nobody sees any of this happening?”

The FBI towed that car — a Ford Mustang convertible — from the property Monday afternoon.

Grace added that she was very suspicious about Laundrie’s whereabouts, wondering if anyone had actually seen him since he supposedly returned home on September 1.

“How long has he really been gone?,” she said. “Remember the parents wouldn’t let the cops in the home. They wouldn’t let them see Laundrie or talk to him. Has he been gone this whole time?”

FBI agents spent most of the day at the Laundrie home, initially escorting the parents out and into van parked on the front yard. After about an hour, the couple was allowed back into their home. The agents were inside for the most part, although they came into the back yard early during the search to photograph a shed. The agents also went inside it.

Also on Monday, a 911 call was released reporting a suspected domestic incident between Laundrie and Petito. It’s not clear if this was the same incident seen in body cam footage released by Moab, Utah, police officers — in which officers believed that Petito was the aggressor — but the details appear to match. In the 911 call, however, Laundrie is clearly the aggressor.

“We drove by and the gentlemen was slapping the girl,” the caller says. “They ran up and down the sidewalk, and he proceeded to hit her. They hopped in the car. And they drove off.”

The body camera footage comes from August 12. Petito last spoke with her family on August 25, although in a search warrant obtained by North Point police last week for a computer in Petito’s van — despite repeated statements by the department’s spokesman that they couldn’t get a search warrant because they had no evidence of a crime — detectives revealed she had sent her mother an odd message two days later.

“On August 27, 2021, the subject’s mother, Nichole Schmidt,  received an ‘odd text’ from the subject. The message read, ‘Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.’ The reference to ‘Stan,’ was regarding her grandfather, but per her mother, she never calls him ‘Stan.’ The mother was concerned that something was wrong with her daughter.

“That was the last communication anyone had with the subject. Her cellphone was no longer operational, and she stopped posting anything on social media about their trip.“

Petito’s body was found Sunday in the Spread Creak Dispersed Camping area of Bridger-Teton National Forest, which is adjacent to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, at which time the coroner will positively identify the body and determine the cause of death.

Nancy Grace said that the results of that autopsy, as well as the details of the discovery of the body, will be key.

“I’m also very concerned about the condition in which Gabby was found – her remains,” she said on Fox. “Was she buried? Was she at the bottom of a ravine? Was she attacked by animals? Did she die from the elements? Because if Gabby was buried, then she was murdered. That’s what I need to find out.”

Laundrie’s parents apparently have something to say on Tuesday as well, or at least their attorney Steven Bertolino does. He announced on Monday a press conference at 1 p.m. in New York.

See CrimeOnline’s compete coverage in the Gabby Petito case.

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[Featured image: Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie/Instagram]