The father of Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old camper who went missing during a cross-country trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, made a public plea Thursday afternoon for her safe return.
"Finding this girl is what matters," Joe Petito said. "Anything else comes second to this."
Gabby Petito was reported missing Saturday after her family said they hadn't heard from her since the end of August. She was believed to be in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming when she disappeared.
Laundrie has taken hits in the press and on social media for not making himself available to investigators. However, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said Thursday that no criminal charges were forthcoming.
"Brian is exercising his constitutional rights, and I have to respect him," Garrison said during a press conference. The police chief added the focus was on finding Petito and "isn't to bring Brian in right now."
His comments come two days after Laundrie was listed as a person of interest in the case.
Petitio and Laundrie left for their weekslong trip on July 22 from New York and made stops in Colorado and Utah. Petito was last seen on Aug. 24 when she and Laundrie checked out of a hotel in Salt Lake City. Her mother, Nicole Schmidt, said she last heard from her daughter on Aug. 25 when Petito told her they were headed to Wyoming.
Schmidt said her daughter seemed "excited" about their next adventure, but Schmidt began to worry when Petito stopped communicating.
"A few days is one thing when you're out camping, but when it starts to become seven, eight, nine, 10 days, that's a problem," Schmidt told ABC News.
Laundrie returned to his hometown in Florida with Gabby Petito's white Ford van.
Utah police added to the mystery when they released body camera footage of a separate incident between Gabby Petito and Laundrie.
Moab City Police Department released their hourlong response footage to a 911 call following an Aug. 12 fight between the young couple in which Petito slapped Laundrie, and he told her to calm down and take a walk.
In the police report, Laundrie is listed as the victim and Petito as the suspect, though Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge said earlier this week there was not enough evidence for a criminal charge.
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Original Author: Barnini Chakraborty
Original Location: Father of missing camper Gabby Petito makes plea for safe return