Gabby Petito timeline: How 'Van-Life' star's disappearance shook a nation
NORTH PORT, FLORIDA: Gabrielle Petito aka Gabby and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie set out on a cross-country trip in July from which she has yet to return. Laundrie is back to his Florida home, has hired a lawyer, and is refusing to co-operate with the police who wanted to question him about Gabby's whereabouts. The situation is as twisted as it gets considering the fact that comparisons are being drawn to the double-murder of a lesbian married couple.
Kylen Carrol Schulte and Crystal Michelle Turner were found dead near a camping site in Moab, Utah, the same place which was geotagged in the last Instagram post shared by Laundrie. Here is a full timeline of Gabby and Laundrie's trip following which the former disappeared and a missing report was filed by her mother on September 11. Petito had documented her road trip across the US on her social media, and here's what happened exactly from the time the trip started to the time Brian Laundrie was named as a person of interest in her disappearance.
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Before we do, here's a bit about Gabby and Laundrie's relationship details of which is complicated as well. Petito and Laundrie started dating in 2019 and later started to live together at their North Port home in Florida, according to a Daily Mail report. The couple got engaged in July 2020, confirmed by their respective Instagram accounts.
Gabby wrote, "Brian asked me to marry him and I said yes! @bizarre_design_ you make life feel unreal, and everyday is such a dream with you 🤍." Laundrie wrote, "My biggest fear is that one day I'll wake up and it will have all been a dream, because that is what every second has felt like since the moment we found each other. Till death do us part or until I wake up, I'm so happy the answer was yes, Love you hunny."
However, Gabby's mother on September 15 told Daily Mail she believed her daughter was no longer engaged as it was called off before the trip began. According to her, Gabby and Laundrie believed they were too young to get married and they were better off dating each other.
Timeline of Gabby Petito's road trip leading to her disappearance
July 2: The couple started off their cross-country trip from Blue Point, New York, according to Nichole Schmidt. The couple was in NYC which is Gabby's hometown where she had attended her brother's graduation ceremony on June 17. The final destination of the trip was decided as Oregon, which they had aimed to reach by October, according to Gabby's mother.
July 4: Gabby posted her first Instagram update from the trip from Kansas. She is seen sporting a summer skirt and tank top, posing between a rock formation while looking at the horizon. The photo was taken at Monument Rocks Natural Landmark in Gove County. Another photo of Gabby with her camper van was posted on the same day.
July 8: Gabby and Laundrie reached Colorado Springs on this day, according to her Instagram, She posted photos from southern Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. She posted several photos from the dunes till July 11, following which there was a 5-day break.
July 16: Gabby was back on Instagram on July 16 and this time there were updates from Zion National Park in Utah. In a post she let people know about the past two days which she had spent camping in the park. "We hiked up here in about 100° and it was so nice coming back to our campsite, watching the sky fill with dark clouds, and view the lightning storm in the nice cool air of the light rain," she wrote. Two days later she posted photos of their campsite in Zion.
July 18 to July 31: On this day she posted photos of herself from The Narrows at Zion, one of these also included Laundrie and the two looked happy to be in each other's company. Gabby and Laundrie covered The Narrows at Zion, Bryce Canyon National Park, Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe to Canyonlands, the photo from which was posted on the last day of July. She then went on a 12-day hiatus from Instagram only to return on August 12.
August 12: Gabby posted a photo taken at Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah. She and Laundrie can be seen kissing in one of the photos from the carousel post. Another photo dump was posted from the same location that day. According to reports, the couple got into a physical fight on that day, and police were called to the site by a man named Christopher. The responding officer Daniel Scott Robbins followed the couple's van noticing they had broken many road rules including overspeeding in a 15 mph zone and then colliding with the curb.
On approaching the van, Gabby was found seated in the passenger seat crying. She cried and her breath remained heavy during questioning, according to the report that Robbins wrote later. Gabby was struggling with her mental health while Laundrie told the officer about "emotional strain" between the two of them. He told the officer about Gabby attacking him physically when she thought he would drive away with the van after their fight. "After evaluating the totality of the circumstances, I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of domestic assault as much of that as a mental health crisis," Robbins wrote.
August 19 to August 24: Gabby and Laundrie revived a YouTube channel first created in November 2013 named 'Nomadic Static'. It was registered with Gabby's email address. They uploaded a video which is a montage of their trip around the country. On August 19 she shared photos of the interior and exterior of their Ford van. On the 19th, Gabby's father placed an Uber Eats order for the couple as she didn't have WiFi. She had spoken to her father on this day, which was her last conversation with him to date. On the 24th Laundrie and Gabby left SLC and proceeded towards Wyoming where they spent two days. Schmidt had spoken to her daughter through FaceTime before leaving from SLC. Before she disappeared, Gabby would FT her mother thrice every week while on the trip.
Gabby's final Instagram post came on August 25 but this was not geotagged. Her family wasn't able to verbally speak with her from this point onwards and it was just text messages from this point onwards. Schmidt said she was convinced the last text message she received on August 30 was not from her daughter.
Gabby Petito's mother files missing report
On September 11, Schmidt filed a missing report with the Suffolk County Police Department. The PD on September 13 issued a statement that they'd recovered the camper van the couple had used for traveling. "We showed up. We see the vehicle. We take the vehicle," North Port, Florida, police spokesperson Josh Taylor told Insider on Tuesday. "We make an attempt to talk with Brian, and his family declined to make him available, and they gave us the information for his attorney," Taylor said. Gabby's disappearance was termed "odd" but the department said there was no evidence to conclude that a crime was committed.
Brian Laundrie issues a statement through his attorney
"This is understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family," Steven Bertolino, the lawyer representing the Laundrie family, said in a statement to the same outlet on September 14. "It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
"On behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family," the statement continued. "On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment."
Gabby Petito's family requested Laundrie to co-operate with the investigation
"Brian is refusing to tell Gabby's family where he last saw her. Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida," Gabby's family said in a statement to the outlet through their attorney Richard Stafford. "These are critical questions that require immediate answers," the family added. A GoFundMe was created by a family friend to help with the search for the 'Van-Life' woman which has raised several thousands already.
Brian Laundrie is named Person of Interest in Gabby Petito's disappearance
In a press conference held on the morning of September 15, North Port police said Laundrie returned to his parents' Florida home on September 1, ten days before Gabby was reported missing. His non-cooperation to be interviewed was mentioned yet again by investigators and he was named as the person of interest.
Gabby's family released a statement asking him to cooperate with the search. "Brian, your silence is reprehensible!" a family lawyer said. "We beg you to do the right thing and help us bring Gabby home. Brian, whatever happened in Wyoming, happened. The only thing you can control is what you do now. Tell us where Gabby is. You tarnish your love for her with your silence."
Laundrie continued to maintain silence and issued a statement through his attorney which reads, "In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this and the warning that 'any statement made will be used against you' is true, regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito's disappearance. As such, on the advice of counsel Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter."