Gabby Petito broke off engagement with Brian Laundrie before trip, says mom
Petito's mother said, 'Maybe the relationship wasn't what I thought'
On September 11, at approximately 6.55 pm, Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito’s family reported her missing to the Suffolk County Police Department. The 22-year-old Long Island woman went missing under mysterious circumstances during a cross-country road trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who is a "person of interest" in the case. Now, Petito’s mother has revealed that she and her fiancé had called off their engagement sometime before Petito went missing.
Petito’s mother Nicole Schmidt had earlier said that her daughter, who set out on a tour of national parks in early July, was last heard from on August 25. She also reportedly received texts from her on August 27 and 30. However, the mother of the missing woman said that she couldn't be sure it was Petito “because it was just a text. I did not verbally speak to her.”
Now, speaking with the Daily Mail, Schmidt said that on September 10, she reached out to Laundrie and his mother Roberta Laundrie trying to reach her daughter. “I texted Brian's mom that I was trying to get in touch with Gabby. I also texted Brian. I got no replies,” Schmidt said. “I knew something was wrong. I felt something was off and I needed to get her reported missing immediately.”
While Petito has been missing, Laundrie returned to his Florida home with the couple's 2012 Ford Transit van. He has reportedly hired an attorney and refused to cooperate with investigators. Schmidt said Laundrie's sister Cassie is the only member of his family who has spoken to authorities.
She told the tabloid that she was unable to understand why neither Laundrie nor his parents had reached out to her in the aftermath of her daughter's disappearance. “It's a very mysterious situation,” she said. “We don't understand why he's doing this. Everybody's assuming the worst and thinking he's guilty of this. But I don't want to believe that. I want to believe she's just in need of help out there and that everybody needs to keep searching.”
Schmidt said Laundrie's parents had been warm and welcoming to Petito during their relationship, recalling a time when his mother even knitted her future daughter-in-law gifts for Christmas. “She loved her like a daughter,” Schmidt said. “As far as I knew they were all very caring and treated her like one of the family. His mom was so excited about the engagement.”
Schmidt added that the couple, who had been together for a little over two years and were engaged, decided to call off the engagement and go back to just dating — she said they felt they were too young for marriage. “I think they kind of put that on hold just because they felt it was a little fast. They were excited at first, but then they were like, 'let's just wait, we're very young'. So they were really just boyfriend and girlfriend,” she said. “They went to high school together. They were friends. They got back in touch and started dating,” she said, adding, “Maybe the relationship wasn't what I thought.”
A month before Petito was officially reported missing, police were called to investigate an incident involving the couple fighting, reportedly exchanging blows. Moab police officers were called to a co-op after a complaint about a “domestic problem” was filed on August 12 when a witness saw the couple get into an argument. Police said they spoke with Petito and Laundrie, who told officers that Laundrie had tried to “create distance” after the argument by telling Petito to go take a walk and calm down.
Police said Petito did not want to be separated from Laundrie and started slapping him, which led to Laundrie grabbing her face, pushing her back, and locking her out of the car. As per the incident report, “no one reported that the male struck the female, both the male and the female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.” However, the police report, based on the couple’s testimonies, says they hit each other during the incident.
Reportedly, Laundrie told the officer that the two had been traveling together for four or five months, and “that time created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments.” Petito was reportedly visibly upset and told the officer she had been struggling with her mental health due to ongoing arguments with Laundrie, as well as suffering from a condition that was redacted by police in the report.