Florida man who traveled country in van with fiancée now ‘person of interest’ in her disappearance

Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito (left) with fiancé Brian Laundrie. (YouTube)

NORTH PORT, Fla. – A Florida man who was traveling the country with his 22-year-old fiancée is now considered a person of interest in an ongoing investigation involving her disappearance.

The North Port Police Department said Wednesday that Brian Laundrie, 23, is a person of interest in the disappearance of Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito who was believed to be in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park when she stopped communicating with her family.

Her family told police the couple set off on a cross-country van trip in July.

According to a Facebook page dedicated to the search, the couple traveled through Colorado and Utah, visiting Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches national parks before visiting Moab, Utah, WFLA reported.

Petito and Laundrie had been documenting their travels, in a white 2012 Ford Transit van, on YouTube under the monikers Nomadic Statik and Van Life, NBC News reported.

Laundrie returned on Sept. 1 to his hometown of North Port, just south of Tampa, in the van with Florida plates but Petito was not with him, police said. The van was fully processed for evidence along with FBI agents Tuesday evening.

“We know Brian returned here to North Port on September 1st — ten days before her family reported her missing on September 11th,” police said. “We have no information that a crime occurred here in North Port.”

According to a news release from police, Laundrie has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators and hasn’t “provided any helpful details.”

“We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks. The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out,” said North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison.

North Port Police said investigators have received “hundreds of tips which are being vetted through multiple agencies” and asked anyone who may have seen the van to call them.

The FBI has set up a national hotline to receive tips: 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).

“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through. We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks,” Garrison said Wednesday in a statement. “We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance.”

Laundrie has not been charged with a crime.

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