Florida police call missing woman's case 'odd;' van found at fiancé's family's home after couple's road trip

FBI in Tampa is taking any tips from the public

Gabby Petito, 22, set out on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé in early July, leaving their Florida Gulf Coast town of North Port first for New York and then out west to tour National Parks

But in late August, Petitio's family stopped hearing from her and updates ceased on her public Instagram page, which she had been using to document her trip. 

Petito's mom, Nicole Schmidt, eventually reported her daughter missing on Saturday night to the Suffolk County Police Department, which is the area in Long Island where Petito grew up. 

Schmidt said at a press conference on Monday that the days since her daughter's disappearance have been "scary" and "nerve-racking," but she believes Petito will return home. 

"I believe a mother’s instinct is the most powerful," Schmidt said. "I believe she’s going to come home."

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie began a cross-country road trip in early July, but Petito has been missing since late August.  (Joey Petito)

The white converted camper van that Petito was traveling in with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, was also recovered on Saturday night back in North Port at the home of Laundrie's parents, according to the North Port Police Department. 

"We currently have no definitive information that a crime took place here in North Port. With that said, the circumstances are odd," the North Port Police Department said Tuesday. "So, we are actively gathering local details and any evidence to assist in finding needed answers."

Schmidt said Monday that she doesn't believe her daughter is in danger for any "particular reasons."

"I just believe she’s in danger because she’s not in touch with us," Schmidt said. "She could be alone somewhere. She could be stranded somewhere in the wilderness, and she needs help."

The FBI's Tampa field office is also assisting in the investigation. 

Brian Laundrie could not be reached for comment. He has not been named a suspect or person of interest in the case. 

The couple converted this 2012 Ford white van into a camper while on Florida earlier this year.  (Joey Petito)

A close friend of the couple, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, told Fox News that all of the couple's friends are stunned by Petito's disappearance.

"My friends and I are just as confused and shocked as everyone else is and still trying to piece together everything that has happened so far," the friend said Monday. 

Petito and Laundrie rekindled an old friendship in 2018 while living on Long Island and "from then on they were madly in love," according to the friend. 


On July 2, 2020, the couple got engaged, Petito announced in an Instagram post

They lived in Florida and both worked at a Publix in the months leading up their road trip while converting their 2012 white Ford van into a camper, according to Nicole Kalanich, a former co-worker. 

In July and August, Petito and Laundrie traveled to Monument Rocks in Kansas, Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado and various scenic spots throughout Utah, including Mystic Hot Springs, Mesa Arch, Zion National Park and Arches National Park, according to Petito's social media. 

In late August, the couple stayed at a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, but were planning to leave for Grand Teton National Park and eventually Yellowstone in Wyoming. 

Petito's mom told Fox News that the last time she had an actual conversation with her daughter was on Aug. 25, when the couple was in Grand Teton. 

Ted Williams, an attorney and former detective in Washington, D.C., told Fox News that authorities will likely have to use cellphone data and other forensics to track the couple's movements across the country. 

"What they're having to do is work backward. Since it is alleged that the last time that anyone actually spoke to her was August the 25th, and that was allegedly from the Grand Teton National Park there in Wyoming, they're going to look at cellphone towers in that area," Williams said Monday. 

"What they are also going to be looking at is as many videotapes in that area to try to actually show that van and to see who, if anybody, was occupying the van."


Petito is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 110 pounds with blond hair and blue eyes. She has a tattoo on her finger and one on her right arm that says "Let it be."

Anyone who may have seen Gabby or has information about her disappearance should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS or the FBI at 1-800 CALL FBI.