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Gabby Petito case; police video released; is there a link to murdered newlyweds?

Moab Utah cases
Posted at 9:46 AM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 16:27:45-04

Recently, the nation has been gripped by the search for Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old woman who went missing amid a cross-country trip with her fiancé, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie.

Since Petito was reported missing over the weekend, police have named Laundrie as a "person of interest" in her disappearance. He returned to his Florida home on September 1 and has declined to speak to the police or cooperate with investigators.

So, where does the investigation into Petito's disappearance stand? And what could be in store in the coming days?

Petito and Laundrie took part in a nomadic cross-country trip in a converted Ford Transit van that served as a camper. Along the way, Petito captured images of her travels on her Instagram page and even started a YouTube channel, Nomadic Statik.

According to a map published on a Facebook page created in the hopes of finding Petito, the couple began their road trip in upstate New York on July 2. They traveled westward, stopping in Colorado Springs on July 6 before heading to Utah.

Petito and Laundrie spent several weeks traveling and hiking in Utah's national and state parks.

August 25 marked the final time that Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, says she spoke with her daughter. At that point, Petito told her mother that she was in Grand Teton National Park.

Schmidt told Fox News earlier this week that she later received text messages from her daughter, but she isn't sure who sent them.

Laundrie returned home from the trip on September 1, and Petito was reported missing 10 days later, according to The New York Times.

August 12 incident
On Thursday, the Moab Police Department released body camera footage showing officers speaking to Petito and Laundrie after pulling over their van near Arches National Park.

In the video, Petito was emotional and told officers that she and her fiancé had been "fighting all morning."

Laundrie also told officers that the two had been fighting. There were scratches visible on his face, which he said resulted from a physical scuffle with Petito.

Police in Moab have released body-cam video showing officers interacting with Petito and Laundrie. The video shows officers talking to a visibly distraught Petito – and Laundrie – after their white van was pulled over in Arches National Park. The body cam footage has not been edited by FOX 13 News, and may contain explicit language. Viewer discretion is advised.

Police declined to file charges in the incident, classifying it only as a "mental health crisis" when the couple agreed to spend the night in separate places. Police say Petito stayed in the van while Laundrie got a hotel room.

"They are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn't wish to see anyone charged with a crime," an officer wrote in a report about the incident.

Police added that neither Petito nor Laundrie called 911. Instead, a bystander called the police after seeing them fighting at Moonflower, a co-op convenience store in Moab.

A separate murder investigation
On August 13 — a day after police interviewed Petito and Laundrie — Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, were last seen at Moonflower, the same Moab store where Petito and Laundrie had been spotted fighting.

Schulte, an employee at the store, and Turner were found shot to death on August 18 at a campsite in the Moab area. The newlyweds were traveling with Schulte's aunt and niece, and according to Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City, the family members had told friends about a man who was "creeping them out" near the campground.

Turner Schulte

While police have not formally linked Petito's missing person case and the murders of Schulte and Turner, a spokesperson for the Grand County Sheriff's Office told Fox News that they're "not ruling anything out."

Police have not yet filed charges in connection with Schulte's and Turner's deaths.

Where does the investigation stand?
Laundrie has not been charged with a crime. In North Port, Florida, police have only listed him as a "person of interest" in Petito's disappearance.

The North Port Police Department also confirmed that Laundrie drove the white van they shared as a home back to the house the Laundrie shared with Petito and her parents on Sept. 1. They've since recovered the van and are processing it for evidence.

The North Port Police will hold a press conference regarding Petito's case on Thursday at noon ET.