Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito‘s final communications with her mother revealed “more and more tension” between the Long Island native and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, according to court documents obtained by In Touch. Petito’s last text to her mother, Nichole Schmidt, immediately raised red flags.
“On August 27th, 2021 [Petito’s] mother, Nichole Schmidt, received an ‘odd text’ from the subject,” read the affidavit from the 12th judicial circuit court of Sarasota county, which was released on Monday, September 20. “The text message read, ‘Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.’ The reference to ‘Stan,’ was regarding her grandfather, but per her mother, she never calls him ‘Stan.’ The mother was concerned that something was wrong with her daughter.”
According to the docs, the 22-year-old frequently called and texted her mother during the trip.
“During these conversations there appeared to be more and more tension between her and Laundrie,” the affidavit reads.
The “odd text” message was the last communication Petito, whose body was believed to have been found on September 19, sent. Her cellphone was “no longer operational,” and the student had stopped updating her social media, where she was documenting her trip with Laundrie, 23, including documenting some events on a YouTube video titled “VAN LIFE: Beginning Our Van Life Journey.”
On August 30, the family received a text that read, “No service in Yosemite,” but they do not believe Petito wrote the text.
Petito and Laundrie had been traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van from Long Island, New York through the American West, stopping to visit national parks along the way. Petito was last seen traveling in the Grand Teton and Yellowstone areas of Wyoming. Human remains that matched the description of Petito were discovered in the vicinity of the Spread Creek dispersed camping area in Wyoming, one of the last places she was seen alive. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday, September 21, to confirm the identity.
On August 12, during a stop in Moab, Utah, local police were dispatched after they received a call about a potential domestic incident in which a “male had been observed to have assaulted the female,” ABC News 4 reported. The couple had driven away but were pulled over near the entrance to Arches National Park.
Police observed Petito crying “uncontrollably.” Laundrie explained to the officers that the pair had been traveling for several months and it “created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments.” During the argument, Petito had entered a “manic state” because she felt Laundrie was going to “leave her in Moab without a ride.”
Laundrie told police Petito, who claimed to have OCD, slapped him and he pushed her away, causing her to lose her balance and scratch his face. They told the police they did not want to press charges and police determined the incident was not domestic violence but rather the result of a mental or emotional health “break.”
On September 1, Laundrie returned solo to his parent’s home, where he and Petito lived, in North Port, Florida. Petito was reported missing by her family to the Suffolk County Police Department in New York on September 11.
On September 15, the North Police confirmed Laundrie was a person of interest. According to Laundrie’s attorney, he is now also missing.
“The attorney for the Laundrie family called FBI investigators Friday night, indicating the family would like to talk about the disappearance of their son. The family now claims that they have not seen Brian since [September 14],” Josh Taylor, a public information officer for the North Port Police told the New York Post on September 17.
On Monday, September 20, one day after Petito’s body was believed to be found, the official Twitter account of FBI Tampa tweeted, “The #FBI is executing a court-authorized search warrant today at the Laundrie residence in North Port, FL relevant to the Gabrielle’ Gabby’ Petito investigation. No further details can be provided since this is an active and ongoing investigation.”
Laundrie’s parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, were removed from their house as the FBI conducted a search, but have been allowed to return, according to the BBC.
Later that day, FBI Tampa tweeted, “The #FBI search at the Laundrie residence in North Port has concluded. No further details since this is an ongoing investigation. We continue to ask for the public’s assistance in the #GabbyPetito investigation.”
Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, shared a photo of his daughter on Twitter on September 19, writing, “She touched the world.”
Laundrie’s lawyer has not yet responded to In Touch’s request for comment.
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