The mother of a missing travelling YouTube and Instagram influencer says her daughter sent her a text message five days after they last spoke but can’t be sure it was her
Gabby Petito, 22, a transplant from Long Island, New York to Florida was reported missing by her family after not hearing from her in two weeks
She set out on a cross-country trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie in a camper van on July 2, but months later he returned to their home in North Port, Florida, without her
Petito was missing, and has not been seen since
Petito and Laundrie started their road trip on July 2, driving towards Oregon, and chronicled most of it on Instagram and YouTube
Laundrie has hired an attorney and refused to cooperate with investigators, Petito’s family said
She was last seen with Laundrie when the couple checked out of a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 24
Her mother, Nicole Schmidt, last spoke on the phone with her on August 25 and she said she was in Grand Teton in Wyoming
The Suffolk County Police Department opened an investigation after Schmidt reported her missing on Saturday
The mother of a Florida woman who has been missing since her fiancé returned from a cross-country trip without her said the last time she spoke over the phone with her daughter was on August 25. Furthermore, she cast suspicion on the last texts purportedly sent by her adventure-seeking daughter over the next five days.
On July 2, Gabby Petito, 22, and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, setting out on their road trip from Suffolk County, New York.
Chronicling their adventures on Instagram, visiting landmarks across the country – Winding through Kansas’ Monument Rocks, Colorado Springs, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zion National Park and Bryce National Park in Utah and Canyonlands National Park.
On August 24, the couple were seen checking out of a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah and on August 25 Petito’s family spoke to her for the last time, over the phone and she told them she was in Grand Teton National Park.
Over the next five days, Petito’s mom Nicole Schmidt, exchanged text messages with someone who she believed was her daughter. Now she says there was no voice communication to confirm the identity at the other end.
In a curious twist Laundrie returned to the couple’s home in Florida alone. His fiancée was not with him and no one has heard from her since.
On September 11, Schmidt reported her daughter missing, after not hearing from her for nearly two weeks.
In an interview with Fox News, Nicole Schmidt of Long Island, New York, said she texted her daughter on August 27 and 30. She isn’t sure if her daughter was on the other end of the exchange because it wasn’t verbal and she didn’t share any photos of herself: ‘It was just a text. I did not verbally speak to her,’ she said.
‘I can’t say much, but she’s no longer with the van. 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.’
Petito’s fiancé, Brian Laundrie, has not addressed the issue of her whereabouts, hiring an attorney and refusing to cooperate with investigators or speak publicly about what happened, according to the missing woman’s family.
Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie has since returned home to Florida with the pair’s camper van. However, according to Joseph Petito, Laundrie and is not cooperating with police in their investigation of his daughter’s disappearance. Gabby Petito who grew up in Blue Point, N.Y., was last seen on August 24 checking out of a hotel with Laundrie in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The following day she made her final call to her family, telling them that she and Laundrie had traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Her last Instagram, posted on August 25, shows her visiting the Monarch Wall in Ogden, Utah with the caption ‘Happy Halloween’. The pair were heading from Ogden to Yellowstone National Park, just north of Grand Teton.
The couple embarked on their trip on July 2 from Blue Point, where they traveled for Petito’s brother’s graduation on June 17. Laundrie returned to their home in North Port, Florida, where the couple moved two years ago, driving the couple’s 2012 Ford Transit van, which police confirmed recovering.
However, it is not clear when he arrived, what he did when he got there or who he told, if anyone, about Petito’s disappearance. She was reported missing by her mother to New York authorities on Saturday night.
‘[It’s like] drowning with your hands tied behind you,’ Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, told Newsday of his daughter’s disappearance. ‘You can’t describe it. There’s nothing you can do. You can’t control anything.’
The Suffolk County Police Department opened an investigation after her mother Nicole Schmidt filed a missing persons report on Saturday, the agency wrote in a press release.
‘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,’ Schmidt said.
Petito was described as 5-feet5, around 110 pounds, with several tattoos, including one on her forearm reading ‘let it be’.
She and Laundrie moved to North Port, Florida, two years ago from Blue Point, where she grew up and attended Bayport-Blue Point High School.
Joseph Petito who moved to Vero Beach, Florida, in June to be closer to his daughter. described her as ‘very, very free spirited’.
‘Clothes didn’t impress her. Cars didn’t impress her. Experiences – that’s what impressed her.’
The couple started their trip on July 2 after Petito attended her brother’s graduation in New York on June 17. They planned to reach Portland, Oregon, and visit a family friend for Halloween.
The pair had documented their conversion of a 2012 Ford van into a camper and their life traveling in it on YouTube and Instagram, and were developing a social media presence under the name ‘Nomadic Statik.’
Per their Instagram accounts, the pair began their trip on July 2 and traveled to Kansas’ Monument Rocks, Colorado Springs, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zion National Park and Bryce National Park in Utah and Canyonlands National Park since July 2.
‘Downsizing out life to fit into this itty bitty van was the best decision we’ve ever made,’ Laundrie wrote on Instagram in early July.
‘Sacrificing space to wake up in nature everyday has been no sacrifice at all.’
Petito and Laundrie had turned back from Utah in late August to evade wildfire smoke, Nicole Schmidt said, and had planned to go to Yellowstone National Park next.
Schmidt said she would remain vigilant and keep up the search for her daughter.
‘I just want people to keep looking and not stop until we find her,’ Schmidt told Newsday. ‘She’s out there somewhere… We won’t stop until we find her.’
Schmidt’s husband and son TJ have posted two missing persons posters on their Instagram accounts as well as a photo of Petito, appealing for her safe return.
Since Petito’s disappearance, her family has launched a GoFundMe that has accrued $5,000 in just six hours. They have also started a social media campaign on Facebook, simply called ‘Find Gabby,’ where a number of national park visitors have claimed to recognize the pair’s van.
‘While we are working with the FBI, multiple law enforcement agencies, and outside resources to pursue any and all leads the family will need funds and resources to travel and pay for expenses related to an investigation and search on the other side of the country, any help is appreciated,’ reads the body of the fundraiser.
Since Petito’s disappearance, her family has launched a GoFundMe that has raised $17,000 ,843 of the $25,000 goal. They have also started a social media campaign on Facebook, simply called ‘ Find Gabby ,’ where a number of national park visitors have claimed to recognize the pair’s van