US Disappearance of Gabby Petito's fiancé underscore police errors, experts say
Timeline of the Gabby Petito case
Local and federal authorities are looking for 22-year-old Gabby Petito, who was reported missing by her family over the weekend after she had been traveling with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. © From Gabby Petito/Instagram A photo of Gabby Petito taken from her Instagram account Laundrie returned to the pair's North Port, Florida, home earlier this month without Petito and is now refusing to talk to authorities, police say. Petito's family and their attorneys have pleaded with Laundrie and his family to cooperate and help bring the girl home.
In the days since Gabbyfound and her death declared a homicide, police have faced questions and criticism for how they handled the case.
Many are asking why Florida’s North Port Police Department didn’t obtain a search warrant for her boyfriend Brian Laundrie’s home before he disappeared, for instance, or immediately interrogate him.
Walter Zalisko, a former New Jersey police officer and Florida police chief, said the criticism is warranted “to an extent.” He said North Port police “did a poor job of investigating” Laundrie initially.
“Once they believed he was a possible suspect, or a person of interest, they should have stationed a police officer at his house for 24 hours a day until they had more evidence to secure a search warrant,” said Zalisko, president of investigative agency Global Investigative Group. “They should have at least had him under surveillance in a secret capacity. They have made a few mistakes in the initial steps of this investigation.”
Body found in Wyoming believed to be Gabrielle Petito
MOOSE, Wyo. (AP) — Authorities say a body discovered Sunday in Wyoming is believed to be Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito. The FBI said the body was found by law enforcement agents who had spent the past two days searching campgrounds. The cause of death not yet been determined, said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Charles Jones. “Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified,” Jones said. “This is an incredibly difficult time for (Petito’s) family and friends.”An attorney who has been acting as a spokesman for the Petito family could not be reached immediately for comment.
A spokesperson for North Port police, Joshua Taylor, said in a statement: “There will be a time and place to explain why things were done and why and when.”
“This is an ongoing investigation and our obligation is to protect its integrity,” he said. “ We cannot release details of our investigative steps at this time. Please understand, it is a process that has to be followed to ensure justice.”
North Port police announced Friday that they don’t know the whereabouts of Laundrie, 23. He vanished just days after policein Petito’s disappearance. His taken the matter seriously and had him under investigation, under watch to decide what he was doing even if they didn’t think they had probable cause to search his house or make an arrest.”
911 Caller Said He Saw Brian Laundrie Hitting Gabby Petito: 'Gentleman Was Slapping the Girl'
Police believe they have found the body of Gabby Petito, and her fiancé Brian Laundrie has gone missing"We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl," the caller tells the dispatcher.
In July, Petito and Laundrie embarkedto tour national parks in a white van, posting about their journey on YouTube and Instagram. The social media updates and phone calls home came to a halt in late August and, on Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to the Florida home where he and Petito lived with his parents, alone. Petito was reported missing Sept. 11.
Authoritiesat the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area campground in Bridger-Teton National Forest, near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
The case has gripped the nation. Lisa Dadio, a former police lieutenant and now the director of the Center for Advanced Policing at the University of New Haven, said the police are likely doing their best and shouldn’t be judged harshly.
“There’s always that instinct to criticize all aspects,” she said. “This whole search warrant, bringing him in for questioning — it’s against the law to do that unless you have probable cause.
Mysterious Stone Memorial Found at Gabby Petito Search Area
The site was spotted on Monday evening at the Spread Creek Dispersed Campsite, although it remains unclear when the cross was created or who placed it there. "We have found what appears to be a memorial in the area where law enforcement searched for and eventually found the remains of who law enforcement believes to be Gabby Petito," Fox13 reporter Sydney Glenn tweeted around 8 p.m. local time on Monday. "This is in the area of Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area," Glenn added.
There’s absolutely no way possible that we know everything that’s going on in this case. Let’s wait to pass judgment.”
That hasn’t stopped social media users from vigorously digging into the case, scouring Petito’s Instagram account for clues, providing updates. One woman,, even reported to police that she unknowingly captured the white van in . family told investigators he had gone hiking in .
“All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing,” Petito’s family said Sept. 17, before her remains were found.
Kenneth Nunn, a law professor at the University of Florida who specializes in criminal procedure and police practices, said police “dropped the ball” by allowing Laundrie to disappear. He added that officers could have considered Laundrie a “critical witness,” and ordered him to stay put.
“They should have been watching him,” Nunn he said. “Police could have
'Gator and Snake Infested Swamps': Inside the Search for Missing Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie, 23, is a person of interest in the disappearance of his fiancée, "van life" vlogger Gabby Petito, 22, whose body is believed to have been found in Wyoming Sunday, say police"Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times," North Port Police PIO Josh Taylor said in a release Tuesday morning announcing that authorities were returning to the sprawling reserve to search for Laundrie, 23, who is a person of interest in Petito's disappearance.
Most of the police criticism has centered around procedural matters, but critics have questioned the way Moab City police in Utah responded to a domestic violence call involving the couple Aug. 12. Police pulled the pair over near a grocery store in Moab, about 140 miles southeast of Provo.
A caller reported seeing, and another said they saw Laundrie and attempt to keep her out of the van. The second witness reported seeing Petito tussling with Laundrie to get back inside the vehicle. The showed Petito visibly distraught after the alleged physical altercation. An officer is heard describing Petito as “the primary aggressor” in the incident, but the officers decided not to charge her. In the end, the police decided to separate the couple, having Petito remain in the van and giving Laundrie a fist bump before driving him to a hotel for the night.
Women’s rights advocates said the incident highlights how ill-equipped police can be to. Nunn also criticized Moab police for the way they addressed the incident.
“It’s quite possible when you have a male-female couple that the female could be physically violent to the male and maybe the initiator of the conflict, but more likely than not, it’s the other way around,” he said.
“That police agency had some responsibility to try to sort out the details and see what was going on and provide more protection to Gabby than what she got. There was a problem that allowed the young lady to be killed.”
Gabby Petito's Family Got Tattoos in Her Honor that She Designed Herself: 'Wanted to Have Her with Me' .
During a press conference Tuesday, Gabby Petito's parents' attorney said he didn't expect Brian Laundrie's parents to help find their missing son since "they did not help us find Gabby"Gabby's mother, stepfather, father and stepmother all got tattoos reading "Let It Be," referencing the Beatles song that was a favorite of hers. They also got other tattoos designed by Gabby, which they showed at the press conference.