“You know what. Forget helping at this point. We know that he’s a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest right now,” Joe says on Friday, September 17, after expressing frustration that Laundrie was not cooperating with authorities. “There are ways that he could turn around, through his parents or whoever knows something in that house that can give us information without incriminating somebody. I don’t care right now. I want my daughter. The entire planet is invested in this and looking for her and there are three people in North Port who haven’t lifted a finger.”
The Petito family reported Gabby as a missing person on September 11, 10 days after Laundrie returned to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida. He arrived solo in the van that he and Gabby embarked on a cross-country excursion in July.
Gabby and Laundrie packed up her 2012 Ford Transit van and went on a road trip to visit national parks, as part of the “van life” movement on social media. While the couple was in Moab, Utah, they had an encounter with local police following a domestic incident between them. Laundrie told police he and Gabby had been arguing a lot after spending time traveling the country together for several months. They got into another argument on August 12, during which she had “gone into a manic state” becuase she thought he was “going to leave her in Moab without a ride.”
He claimed Gabby began to slap him, so he pushed her away to avoid being slapped. Petito lost her balance but was still able to allegedly scratch his face. Despite the alleged altercation, the couple told law enforcement that they were in love and did not want to press charges. They continued on their trip, but Gabby’s last correspondence before her disappearance was in a text message to her mother on August 30.
Joe shares his thoughts on what allegedly transpired between his daughter and Laundrie on their trip. “That thing that happened on the 12th with them getting pulled over, if I’d been there I would’ve fixed it,” he says. “You don’t put hands on a woman ever. Even if she’s beating you. I was raised never to put hands on a woman.”
On Friday, September 17, Laundrie’s lawyer revealed that he had been missing since Tuesday — three days after Gabby was reported missing. A separate search to locate Laundrie is now underway.
As for the search for Gabby, Joe muses about what the next steps would be to find his daughter. “I honestly don’t know the whole process. I’m pretty familiar with what would happen but at the end of the day, none of it matters unless I have my daughter,” he says. “They could go to court and they could turn around and say [Brian is] going to jail for the rest of his life, but if I don’t have the person that matters to me … as far as I’m concerned he did something or something happened or he left her. At its best he left her, right?”
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