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What happened to Gabby Petito? Woman goes missing on road trip with boyfriend

Gabby Petito's mother opens up about missing daughter after she set out on a road trip with boyfriend, whom she last talked to on August 25
UPDATED SEP 13, 2021
Gabby Petito (@gabbypetito/Instagram)
Gabby Petito (@gabbypetito/Instagram)

Nicole Schmidt is pleading for help after her daughter has been missing for weeks, during a road trip with her boyfriend. Schmidt said Gabby Petito, 22, set out on a tour of national parks in early July and was last heard from on August 25. The white van that Petito and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie were traveling in has since been recovered, but Laundrie is refusing to cooperate, adding to the mystery of her disappearance.

The same day Schmidt gave her first interview on the subject, British actress Tanya Fear was also reported missing, with a public campaign by her cousin desperate for information. On September 8, we also reported on the disappearance of Robert Herrington and his family from Minneapolis. In late August, Brooklyn publishing executive Erika Greber Seyfried was found dead in a Vermont river, two days after she went missing.


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Schmidt is now urging for help locating her daughter after police found the 2012 Ford van Petito and Laundrie were traveling in. "I can’t say much, but she’s no longer with the van. I don’t want to say anything more than that but for people looking for her, I want them to look for her now, not look for that van anymore," she told Fox News. Petito's family has also created a Facebook page to track updates, and opened a GoFundMe to help fund the search for the 22-year-old.


What happened to Gabby Petito?

That's the big question on everyone's mind at the moment, with Laundrie back home, but refusing to cooperate with the investigation. Petito's family claimed Laundrie has hired an attorney, which has left them feeling helpless. "(It’s like) drowning with your hands tied behind you. You can't describe it. There's nothing you can do. You can't control anything," Petito's father Joe Petito told Newsday. Schmidt last Facetimed Petito on August 35, and received texts from her on the 27th and 30th, but wasn't sure it was from her. "I don't know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text. I didn't verbally speak to her," she told Fox.

After close to two weeks of no contact, Petito's parents filed a report with the Suffolk County Police Department in New York on September 11. The last time they were in touch, Petito was reportedly at the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. They were reportedly heading for Yellowstone National Park in California, but she never made it. The Daily Mail reported Laundrie made it back to his home in Florida but did not say when he did. He has refused to speak to the press as well. 

While the Suffolk County PD is running an investigation, Petito's family is leaving no stone unturned. They have currently raised $4,800 of a $10,000 goal on GoFundMe, to help with the search. "We are working with the FBI, multiple law enforcement agencies, and outside resources to pursue any and all leads," the family said. They are also sourcing leads via the Find Gabby Facebook page, which the family is also using to share updates.


'Free spirited' Petito goes on tour

Originally from Blue Point, New York, Petito set out on a nationwide tour with Laundrie in early July. They documented their travels via their personal Instagram accounts, as well as a Nomadic Statik YouTube and TikTok account. "Downsizing out life to fit into this itty bitty van was the best decision we've ever made," Laundrie said in July as the due set off on their trip. They visited Florida's Fort De Soto Park, a Georgia portion of the Appalachian Trail, Kansas' Monument Rocks, Colorado Springs, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zion National Park, and Bryce National Park in Utah and Canyonlands National Park. 

In late August, they checked out of a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah to evade wildfire smoke. That was the last time Petito was seen physically. August 25 was the last time she posted to Instagram, the same day she last called her mother. "She's very, very free-spirited. Clothes didn't impress her. Cars didn't impress her. Experiences — that's what impressed her," Joe said. Reportedly, Petito moved to North Port, Florida two years ago to be with Laundrie.

"I just want people to keep looking and not stop until we find her. She's out there somewhere. We won't stop until we find her," Schmidt added. Petito is described as a 22-year-old who is 5’5” with blonde hair and blue eyes. She also has a triangle tattoo on her left arm with flowers and a "Let it be" tattoo on her right arm. Anyone with information is urged to get in touch with the family via the Facebook page or by calling 1-800-220-8477.