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‘Odd text’ from Gabby Petito’s phone was first sign something was wrong, mother told investigators

This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021. The couple was pulled over while they were having an emotional fight. Petito was reported missing by her family a month later and is now the subject of a nationwide search. ((The Moab Police Department via AP))

In the last text message Gabby Petito’s mother received from her daughter’s phone number, Gabby’s grandfather was referred to as “Stan.”

According to a warrant, that text was a red flag for her mother because Petito never refers to her grandfather by his first name.

Her mother told investigators the Aug. 27 text message read: “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.”

The text was the first sign that her daughter may be in trouble while on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. Petito’s mother has said she believes her daughter did not send the last text she received from her, a text that was sent three days after she last spoke with her family.

MORE | FBI searches home of Gabby Petito’s boyfriend as focus shifts away from Florida nature preserve

Petito’s mother also told investigators that previous text exchanges with her daughter showed there was mounting tension between Petito and Laundrie, according to the warrant.

After that final text, her phone was shut off and she didn’t post anything on social media, according to the warrant. This was not normal behavior for the 22-year-old and the family became more concerned.

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

The FBI believes the family’s worst fears may have been realized.

In Wyoming, the FBI announced Sunday that agents had discovered a body matching Petito’s description on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, which the couple had visited. No details on the cause of death were released. An autopsy was set for Tuesday.

The new details about the last text were revealed in a search warrant obtained by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office last week for an external hard drive found in the van Petito and Laundrie used to travel the country, a trip the couple documented on various social media platforms.

Authorities renewed their search for Laundrie, 23, on Tuesday in a swampy preserve area near his North Port home. Laundrie, whose whereabouts are unknown, has been named a “person of interest” in the case and is wanted for questioning but has not been accused of a crime.


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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.