Gabby Petito: How missing case may have links to Kylen Schulte-Crystal Turner murders
UPDATE: Utah police have now determined that Gabby Petito’s disappearance is not related to the double homicide of Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner in Moab. Schulte and Turner were last seen alive on August 13 and their bodies were recovered from their campsite in the South Mesa area on August 18.
“It has been determined that the Gabby Petito missing person case is not related to the double-homicide case involving Chrystal Turner and Kylen Schulte,” the Grand County Sheriff said in a statement.
The police were previously exploring a potential connection between the two cases. “We’re looking at everything, I mean, anything and everything that was suspicious around that time or we’re not ruling anything out at this time,” the sheriff’s office had said earlier. “So we’re just investigating the information as it comes in.”
Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito, a 22-year-old Long Island woman, has reportedly gone missing under mysterious circumstances during a cross-country road trip with her fiance. Petito, the police said, was traveling in a white, 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03 with a companion when she stopped communicating with friends and family.
Petito’s mother Nicole Schmidt claims her daughter has been missing for weeks. Schmidt said Petito set out on a tour of national parks in early July and 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.”
She was reportedly last seen on August 24 when she checked out of a hotel with her fiance Brian Laundrie in Salt Lake City, Utah. Some reports have referred to Laundrie as just her boyfriend. The following day, she reportedly made her final call to her family, telling them that she and Laundrie had traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. While Petito’s last post on Instagram was on August 25 — she was visiting the Monarch Wall in Ogden, Utah, and captioned the photo “Happy Halloween” — Laundrie’s last post was shared on August 13. It was geotagged Moab, Utah, a place famous for its red rock geological structures.
His long photo caption read, “Humans are primates, great apes in fact but I don’t know all how great we are as a species. Chimpanzees share 98.8% of their DNA with humans, our closest living relative, but as I see it every living creature is in some way our relative even trees. Only 800 million years ago animal cells started appearing on earth comprised of mainly the same parts and following the same functions as plant cells. Requiring oxygen, solar energy, minerals, nutrients, and water.”
“This tree (Juniperus osteosperma) was surviving in only inches of soil, in an area of extreme heat and drought,” he further wrote. “I think our culture, our society has put itself above all living creatures, creating needs purely to support destructive economic practices. This tree doesn’t require an Apple Watch, it doesn’t stream its favorite shows, or have a microwave oven, pay health insurance or drink grande iced caramel macchiatos. It is just a tree but you rarely see geese riding jet skis or wearing designer clothing either. I think if we all want breathable air and drinkable water we all need to learn how to live with less.”
Laundrie has since returned to his Florida home with the couple's 2012 Ford Transit van, which police said has since been recovered for further investigation. He has reportedly hired an attorney and refused to cooperate with investigators.
While the case of Petito’s disappearance continues to baffle, another case that took place in the same region has captured the imagination of many. Kylen ‘Ky’ Carrol Schulte, 24, and Crystal Michelle Turner, 38 were camping in the mountains of Moab, Utah. On August 18, their bodies were discovered near the South Mesa area of La Sal Loop Road in Grand County, according to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. Officers discovered Schulte and Turner partially undressed with multiple gunshot wounds all over their bodies.
Fox 13 obtained a copy of the search warrant that was filed and carried out with the intent to search a vehicle registered to the couple but that was not with them when they were found. The van had been left at a McDonald's parking lot, which is where Turner worked.
"Investigators were informed that Kylen had mentioned to her friends that if something happened to them, they were murdered. Kylen had continued by saying there was a ‘creepy man’ around their camp and they had been intimidated by him," the search warrant said. It also said that Turner and her wife Schulte “were undressed from the waist down,” and that “Investigators located multiple gunshot wounds on both bodies. The wounds were located on the backs, sides, and/or chests of the victims.”
As per a report, the women were last seen on August 13 at about 8.30 pm leaving Woody's Tavern on Main Street in Moab. They drove to a campsite in the La Sal Mountains. Schulte and Turner were reported missing on August 16 after failing to show up for work.
No arrests have reportedly been made yet and no suspects have been named. Multiple agencies, including the FBI and the State Bureau of Investigation, are assisting with the case.
As such, it would be a stretch to connect the disappearance of Petito with the double murder, especially in the absence of any concrete evidence. The fact that Petito and Laundrie were, at least per their Instagram posts, in the general vicinity at the supposed time of this gruesome crime however is interesting if nothing else. Petito’s Instagram post for August 12 places the couple at Arches National Park, a site of more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches just north of Moab.
Will the police look into both crimes and see if there may be a connection? It is difficult to say. They are, after all, being investigated by two different agencies. Petito’s disappearance is being looked into by the Suffolk County Police. And the double murder is under the purview of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. Only time will tell if they will join forces to investigate if the two have a common link — and if so, what that is.