World Gabby Petito homicide: Utah officers may not have had all information responding to Moab incident, experts say
Everything You Need To Know About The Gabby Petito Case
Gabby Petito was reported missing earlier this month, and now human remains have been discovered which could be hers. Read on for everything to know about the case. The whole world is in a standstill right now as we await news on Gabby Petito, the missing 22-year old woman from Florida. Gabby and he boyfriend Brian Laundrie were travelling the country together in a van, documenting their adventures in a Youtube series titled 'VAN LIFE.' Despite being heavily active on social media as an influencer and vlogger, Gabby has not posted in several days, with her last social media post coming from Grand Teton National Park.
With the City of Moab inannouncing an investigation into the handling of an Aug. 12 domestic dispute involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, experts say the officers may have acted appropriately — based on incomplete information.
"It's proper if they determine that it's only a mental health situation because now officers are being trained, because people get shot, [to] handle mental health situations differently than they handle regular cases," Susanne Gustin, a Salt Lake City-based defense attorney, told Fox News Friday. "You want to de-escalate. You don't want to necessarily arrest somebody who was having a mental health episode."
Park Ranger urged Gabby Petito to distance herself from 'toxic' relationship with Brian Laundrie, report says
A U.S. park ranger in Utah reportedly urged Gabby Petito 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 a possible domestic assault between 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.
Under, police are required to either arrest the suspect or issue a citation in a domestic violence situation. They have no discretion in the matter, she said.
"The statute’s clear because it says ‘shall,’" Gustin said. "And that’s very important because when it says ‘shall’ in a statute, it means they have to do it."
But bodycam video of police responding to the domestic incident, which, shows officers debating how to proceed before ultimately deciding that Petito, who they were told was the aggressor by herself, Laundrie and a witness, was having a mental health "break" and was not a domestic violence suspect.
Travel blogger who spotted Gabby Petito's van reacts to news of homicide: let's make her 'dreams come true'
Travel blogger Jenn Bethune, who identified Gabby Petito's van in video footage from a summer trip to Wyoming, on Tuesday reacted to news of the FBI confirming Gabby Petito's remains.The agency on Tuesday said Teton County coroner Brent Blue had identified remains located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sunday as Gabby Petito's and that she had died of homicide.
"If they followed the law strictly, she's the one who would have gotten the citation or been taken to jail," Gustin said.
Moab police did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.
"They were trying to calm the situation down," she said. "So even in that situation, I think they did the right thing by making them separate for the night."
However, critical information was not available to the officers at the scene. A witness had called a non-emergency line to report he had seen Laundrie "slapping" and hitting Petito.
With that information, Gustin said police may have considered Laundrie the aggressor, not Petito, and made an arrest.
"People are coming down on the officers here, and they didn't have that very critical piece of information," she said. "I think the dispatcher is going to be in big hot water."
‘Didn’t Seem Right’: Witness Was Deeply Alarmed by Van-Life Couple’s Fight
A person who saw doomed “van-life” couple Gabby Petito and fiancé Brian Laundrie fighting in Moab, Utah, told cops that “something definitely didn’t seem right,” according to a witness statement released by authorities. Petito and Laundrie two set off in July to travel the U.S., visiting the country’s national parks and wilderness areas while living out of a converted 2012 Ford Transit Connect van. But although their online postings portrayed a blissful existence on the road, the couple’s relationship was in fact starting to fray by mid-August, a police report obtained by The Daily Beast revealed. On Sept.
The caller who reported the incident between Laundrie and Petito on Aug. 12 told the dispatcher that "the gentleman was slapping the girl" and hitting her, Fox News confirmed Monday after exclusively obtaining the audio of the call.
"He was slapping her?" the dispatcher asked.
"Yes," the caller answered. "And then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off."
Without being aware of the allegation that Laundrie had physically struck Petito, officers may have misinterpreted the situation, said Kit Gurelle, a longtime advocate for domestic violence victims.
"It's quite common in domestic violence cases, when law enforcement roll up, that the victim is upset and crying and hysterical — and the offender is cool, calm and collected," she told Fox News Friday.
And that’s exactly what appeared on bodycam video of the incident. Petito was in tears, and Laundrie appeared calm and soft-spoken. But Petito did not dispute Laundrie’s story that she was the aggressor, and contradictory witness statements do not appear to have been discussed by officers at the scene.
Internet sleuths take matters into their own hands and make Brian Laundrie America's most wanted man
Users on TikTok, YouTube, and other social media outlets have taken the disappearances of Gabby Pettito and Brian Laundrie into their own hands and made Laundrie America’s most wanted man. Petito and Laundrie left New York on a cross-country road trip in July and documented their journey west on Youtube and Instagram before Laundrie returned home to Florida alone on September 1. Petito was reported missing by her family on September 11 and amateur detectives on social media quickly jumped on the case.
"She was obviously very upset," Gurelle said. "She articulated her thoughts and feelings in much the way that domestic violence victims oftentimes do: They blame themselves."
Gabby blaming herself is a major red flag indicating that she was a domestic violence victim, she said.
At that point, the officers could have called in a domestic violence victims’ advocate, according to Gurelle. And that person may have been able to deduce more information about what actually happened.
Gurelle said another red flag was Laundrie allegedly threatening to take Petito’s phone and drive off without her, as one witness stated.
But Laundrie appeared to convince officers that Petito had a breakdown and attacked him and even struck up chitchat as they drove him away from the van.
"What is horrifying to me is after that interaction with law enforcement, I just wonder what that drive up from Moab to the Tetons was like for Gabby," she said. "I just I fear that he felt tremendously emboldened by that interaction that he had with law enforcement."
After leaving Utah, the couple reached Grand Teton National Park, near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, around Aug. 25.
"I think that in looking at all of the video, the good and the bad, that's a typical domestic violence cycle," Gustin said. "And of them making up and kissing on the beach and holding hands and being happy."
‘Jealous’ Van-Life Boyfriend Is Adept at Wilderness Survival, Gabby Petito’s Pal Says
A friend of Gabby Petito says Brian Laundrie has wilderness survival skills that could help him if he hopes to evade law enforcement officials currently searching for him as they investigate the 22-year-old YouTuber’s disappearance and apparent murder. “He is out in the wilderness, I promise you,” Rose Davis told the celebrity tabloid People. “If he’s alive, he’s out there, camping out He lived in the Appalachians by himself for months.” Earlier this week, FBI officials said that Petito’s remains were found in a Wyoming National Park, and the agency has deemed her death a homicide.
Domestic abusers tend to balance out their abuse with apologizes and warmth, she said.
"It’s the typical abuse cycle," she said. "They explode, and they feel better because they got all their anger out."
On Aug. 27, Laundrie was seen arguing with female restaurant workers at Merry Piglets in Jackson Hole. It may have been the last time Petito was seen in public.
At one point, Petito apologized for Laundrie’s behavior — and that could have set up the next fight, according to Gustin.
"Because she was embarrassed, because she went back into the restaurant to apologize for his behavior, he probably went ballistic over that," she speculated. "The fact that she went and took sides with the wait staff instead of him. And so once they got back in the van, they probably had a huge blowout fight."
Laundrie showed up at his parents’ Florida home in Petito’s van on Sept. 1. Her mother reported her missing 10 days later. Investigators found her remains at a campground near Jackson Hole on Sunday, and the FBI on Thursday named him in a federal arrest warrant for alleged debit card fraud during his drive home.
Gurelle said there are nonviolent and nonsexual signs of domestic abuse that do not constitute criminal offenses that the public should be aware of, including manipulation, isolation and intimidation. Learn more about bout the "" here.
Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones, Greg Norman and Paul Best contributed to this report.
Gabby Petito case: Moab, Utah's top cop takes leave of absence amid investigation into handling of 911 call .
The head of Utah’s Moab Police Department is stepping away from his post and taking a leave of absence just days after the city announced it would be investigating officers’ handling of a possible domestic violence case last month involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, Fox News Digital has confirmed. Police Chief Bret Edge requested a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act that began Monday, Lisa Church, communications director for the City of Moab, confirmed to Fox News. The Moab Times-Independent was first to report the news.