World Park Ranger urged Gabby Petito to distance herself from 'toxic' relationship with Brian Laundrie, report says
Mystery disappearance of US road-tripper grips nation
American authorities have launched a massive search for a 22-year-old woman who mysteriously vanished during a road trip with her boyfriend, now declared a "person of interest" in a case gripping the nation. "Two people went on a trip, one person returned and that person that returned isn't providing us any information."Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito quit her job and packed her life into a camper van for the cross-country adventure with Brian Laundrie, 23, documenting their journey in a stream of idyllic-seeming Instagram posts.
A U.S. park ranger inreportedly urged to distance herself from fiancé Brian Laundrie just weeks before the road-tripping New York native’s remains were believed to be found near Grand Teton National Park.
Melissa Hulls, the ranger, was among several officers who responded to a 911 call reporting abetween downtown Moab and Arches National Park on Aug. 12.
Fox News previously obtained bodycam video from one of the male officers interviewing Petito – who appeared distraught and on the verge of tears. Officers ultimately filed no charges and said they separated the couple.
Gabby Petito missing: Brian Laundrie's mom confronted outside home as hunt moves deeper into Florida reserve
Brian Laundrie’s mother was spotted outside her home Sunday morning as Florida authorities resumed the search for Laundrie in the deeper parts of a nature reserve where he was last seen. Gabby Petito, 22, has been missing for almost a month. Her mother, Nicole Schmidt, last reported speaking with her daughter on Aug. 25, and the family filed a missing person’s report on Sept. 11. Police named Laundrie, Petito’s fiancé, a person of interest last week as the search for Petito intensified, but his family reported him missing on Friday.
Ranger Melissa Hulls stepped aside to speak with Petito in private, believing she would be more open to speaking one-on-one with a female officer alone, according to Salt Lake City’s.
Hulls told Deseret reporter Kyle Dunphey she "was probably more candid with her" than she should’ve been when she told the young woman, who was reported missing on Sept. 11, that her relationship with Laundrie appeared "toxic."
Dunphey, who initially visited Moab over the weekend in connection with a different story, said he informed the ranger that he had filed a public records request for her bodycam video ahead of the interview and that she had nothing to hide. Fox News also filed such a request and has not yet received a response.
FBI confirms Wyoming remains are Gabby Petito; label cause of death 'homicide'
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"This was a hard interview to get on the record," said Dunphey, who had initially scheduled a meeting with Hulls on the unrelated story. "She did not want to talk to me about this."
But she did – and she said she "was imploring" Petito to "reevaluate the relationship."
"I can still hear her voice," Hulls told Dunphey. "She wasn’t just a face on the milk carton, she was real to me."
Moab police pulled over Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito on the road leading into Arches National Park around 4:45 p.m. MT on Aug. 12 in response to a 911 caller who said he witnessed a male "slapping" a female before the couple got into the van and headed north out of town.
Bodycam video from one of the responding Moab police officers suggests Laundrie was behind the wheel, driving 45 mph in a 15 mph zone, before slamming into the curb after the police lights went on.
Gabby Petito case: Friends say couple's relationship was 'toxic' at times, 'always had some drama:' report
Recent homicide victim Gabby Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who is now a person of interest in her death, had a "toxic" relationship at times and "always had some drama," friends recently told People. The magazine recently spoke to two friends of the couple, who had embarked on a cross-country trip in a converted van before their journey took a tragic turn. Each friend told the news site that the couple, who began dating after meeting at their local Long Island, N.Y. high school, had some good times – but also some bad.
Several other law enforcement agents arrived at the stop, including another Moab officer, Hulls and at least one more ranger. Petito appeared agitated or in tears the entire time – in stark contrast to the calm and collected Laundrie.
The couple downplayed the incident and made it sound like Petito was the aggressor – a story the officers appeared to accept despite the 911 call and a witness statement that alleged Laundrie tried to take Petito’s phone at the Moonflower co-op and drive away without her.
The authorities can be heard discussing whether to classify the encounter as a domestic call or a mental health incident – which would mean the difference between making an arrest or letting the couple go. Ultimately, officers declined to press charges but booked Laundrie a hotel room in town through a nonprofit for domestic abuse survivors.
The motel owner told Fox News last week that he could confirm a room had been reserved but did not know whether Laundrie actually spent the night there.
The Petito case and another unsolved double homicide have rocked Moab – a crossroads community with 5,000 full-time residents.
Brian Laundrie manhunt: Woman in Wyoming says she picked him up hitchhiking
A second witness who says she gave Brian Laundrie a ride in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming while he was hitchhiking has come forward with new information about his activity on Aug. 29.The first woman, Miranda Baker, said in videos posted to TikTok on Sept. 17 that she and her boyfriend picked up Laundrie, 23, at 5:30 p.m. MST on Aug. 29 after spotting him hitchhiking on the side of the road. She said she spoke with police about the encounter.
Two prominent local women – Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner – were found murdered in a campground just outside town. The newlyweds were found shot to death by a local store owner named Cindy Sue Hunter, who told Fox News over the weekend that she was on the phone with Schulte’s father when she came across the grisly crime scene.
"I just went into shock," she said. "And he’s screaming, you know, ‘Get in the car, get the f--- out of there.’ … He’s all of the sudden realizing that I could be in danger."
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office said it has ruled out a connection between the two cases – but that means whoever was responsible for the heinous slayings is still at large.
An FBI-led search for Laundrie is underway in Florida. His parents told North Port police Friday that they hadn’t seen him since Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Laundrie is believed to have driven back from Wyoming to his parents’ house in Petito’s van, arriving on Sept. 1. He allegedly kept mum about his fiancée’s disappearance the entire time, and her mother reported her missing on Sept. 11.
That same day, authorities seized the van at the Laundrie family home – but they did not search it at the time.
The FBI said Sunday that search teams had uncovered what they believed to be Petito's remains at a campground north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, near her last known whereabouts.
Gabby Petito case: Dispatch recordings show Utah police were told male struck female .
Minutes after Utah police were told about a report of a man striking a woman and taking off in a white Ford Transit van with Florida plates, officers pulled over Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito and appeared to zero-in on her as the aggressor, dispatch radio recordings show. "RP (reporting party) states a seeing male hit a female, domestic," the dispatcher states at around 4:38 p.m. MT on they day of the incident. "He got into a white Ford Transit van, has a black ladder on the back, Florida plate.