Gabby Petito disappearance: Van found at boyfriends North Port family home – FOX 13 Tampa Bay
Family pleads for answers in disappearance of Gabby Petito
Evan Axelbank reports
NORTH PORT, Fla. – The North Port Police Department is assisting agencies across multiple states to find out what happened to a woman who went missing while on a road trip with her boyfriend. The van they were traveling in was located this weekend at a home in Sarasota County.
Gabrielle Petito, 22, and her boyfriend were driving a converted camper van from Florida to New York and then to national parks out west when Gabrielle went missing.
Gabrielle’s mother said she last spoke to her daughter via text on August 25. The camper van was located at the home of her boyfriend’s parents in North Port, Florida on the weekend of September 11, the day Gabrielle’s mother reported her missing.
Police said Gabrielle’s boyfriend is not missing but did not say where he may be or if he is considered to be involved in her disappearance.
Agencies from Sarasota County to New York to the FBI are now trying to piece together where she might have gone.
Screenshot from Youtube video of Gabrielle and her boyfriend during roadtrip (Nomadic Statik/Youtube)
Gabrielle and her boyfriend began their trip in July, driving from Florida to New York, where Petito grew up. The couple then drove west, stopping at national parks along the way.
A little more than a month into their trip, on September 11, Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, reported her daughter missing. Schmidt said the last time she talked to her daughter was August 25.
Van located at boyfriend’s parents’ home
Evan Axelbank reports
Social media trail
The couple documented some of their travels on social media. On July 4, Gabrielle posted a photo of herself on Instagram, standing in between two rock formations in Monument Rocks, Kansas.
On July 11, Gabrielle posted a photo of herself in Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Eleven days later, she posted a photo of herself in Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park.
According to her Instagram posts, Gabrielle and her boyfriend spent several weeks in Utah, visiting Mystic Hot Springs, Canyonlands National Park, and Arches National Park. One post describes the dangers of rock climbing and their experience climbing a less-traveled, treacherous area.
“We walked just a little past the arch where the rock is at such an angle, it appears impossible to walk on, but being such experienced hikers, I had confidence that I could make it!” the post read, in part. “Many people who spotted us were contemplating how we made it here, shouting things like ‘wow you guys must be crazy!’”
Gabrielle’s most recent Instagram post was made on August 25. The photos appear to be taken in front of a mural called “The Monarch” in Ogden, Utah.
In a 7-minute Youtube video titled “VAN LIFE | Beginning Our Van Life Journey,” posted August 19 on the account Nomadic Statik, the couple can be seen in various, unmarked locations, seeming to enjoy their life on the road.
Parts of the video feature them both, while other parts only show Gabrielle. The video is the only post visible on the Nomadic Statik Youtube channel.
Mother pleads for answers
According to Fox News, who spoke to Gabrielle’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, the couple stopped in Grand Teton National Park on Aug. 25, which is Petito’s last known location before the pair planned to visit Yellowstone National Park.
Gabrielle’s mother, Nicole Schmidt breaks down during press conference about her missing daughter
“I don’t know if she left Grand Teton or not,” Schmidt told Fox News on Sunday. “I did receive a text from her on the 27th and the 30th, but I don’t know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text. I didn’t verbally speak to her.”
“I can’t say much, but she’s no longer with the van,” Schmidt told Fox News of her daughter. “I don’t want to say anything more than that but for people looking for her, I want them to look for her now, not look for that van anymore.”
Map of possible route traveled by the couple (WNYW)
According to police in North Port, the van was found at the home of Gabrielle’s boyfriend’s parents.
In a statement, North Port PD said, “We currently have no definitive information that a crime took place here in North Port. With that said, the circumstances are odd. The vehicle she was traveling in was located here in North Port. So, we are actively gathering local details and any evidence to assist in finding needed answers.”
North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor said they are not ruling anything out, including that Gabrielle may not want to be found.
“We’re hopeful that she’s out there somewhere. People just sometimes don’t want to communicate so that’s certainly still a viable option,” Taylor said. “But we have to prepare for something maybe more sinister.”
Screenshot from Youtube video of van driven by Gabrielle and her boyfriend (Nomadic Statik/Youtube)
Detectives from the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, Petito’s hometown, are leading the investigation into her disappearance. Anyone who has a tip about the case to submit to the Suffolk County Police Department may do so by calling 1-800-220-8477.
North Port PD says anyone who might have information about the case is asked to 941-429-7382.
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