The investigation into the disappearance of Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito had a major development on Sunday when remains believed to be that of the young woman were found in a Wyoming national park. The FBI on Monday declared the home of Brian Laundrie, Petito’s boyfriend, as a crime scene.
One important factor in this story involves a physical altercation between the couple which occurred a couple of weeks before Petito’s disappearance. In Moab, Utah, police were called on suspicion of a domestic violence situation that occurred near another park.
The Moab City Police Department’s report recounts a physical encounter between Petito and Laundrie that stemmed from an argument over a phone. Officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Scott Robbins responded to a report of a domestic issue between 4:30 pm and 5 pm on August 12.
Bodycam of the officer’s investigation can be found below:
Officer Pratt noted in his report:
It appeared that a male and female had left the scene traveling north on Main in a white Ford Transit van with a black ladder on the rear after the male and female had engaged in some sort of altercation. It wasn’t clear, but I believe it was reported the male had been observed to have assaulted the female.
After hearing that other officers were searching for the van, he decided to stop at the Moonflower Co-Op, where the confrontation ensued, to “see if any witnesses were still in the area.”
He found a witness who is identified as “Chris.”
After taking down Chris’ contact information, Pratt left because he heard Officer Robbins inform dispatch he had “located the suspect vehicle near the turn to Arches National park.”
Before being called away on another report, Pratt joined Robbins and two park officers in the investigation. He spoke with Laundrie, Petito, and called Chris to put together the details of the altercation, and noted that “all three individuals gave me a similar and consistent story” that the couple had an argument. He wrote:
The male tried to create distance by telling Gabbie to go take a walk to calm down, she didn’t want to be separated from the male, and began slapping him. He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van, he tried to lock her out and succeeded except for his driver’s door, she opened that and forced her way over him and into the vehicle before it drove off.
Officer Pratt also noted that “no one reported that the male struck the female” and that both of them “reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.”
Neither Laundrie nor Petito had experienced any “significant injuries.”
Pratt’s report also noted that Gabrielle suffered from serious anxiety amid other issues and that “it appeared that this incident was more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault.”
Officer Robbins gave a similar report, although parts of it that detailed mental health issues that both Laundrie and Petito said they experienced were redacted. Robbins’ report noted that Chris said the two were “arguing over a phone” and that when Laundrie got into the van, “he saw what appeared to him as Gabrielle hitting Brian in the arm and the climbing through the driver’s window.”
Robbins located the white van and initiated the stop. He followed the van and pulled it over near the entrance of Arches National park. He noted that as he approached the vehicle, he noted that Petito was “crying uncontrollably” and asked her to exit the vehicle.
At this point, she told the officer she suffered from a mental health issue and that, combined with “little arguments” she was having with her boyfriend, put her in a situation in which she was “struggling with her mental health.” She said this is what led to the encounter near the Moonflower. Robbins observed that “at no point in my investigation did Gabrielle stop crying, breathing heavily, or compose a sentence without needing to wipe away tears, wipe her nose, or rub her knees with her hands.”
When Robbins spoke with Laundrie, he said they both suffered from a condition that was redacted in the report but noted that Petito’s case “is more advanced than his.” He stated that “issues” between the couple had been boiling up over the last few days leading up to the incident. He noted neither of them takes medication for their conditions.
He repeated the fact that he attempted to place distance between himself and Petito so they could settle down. After he got into the van, Petito apparently “had gone into a manic state” because she thought he was going to drive away without her. Robbins reported:
As Gabrielle started to swing, Brian pushed her away to avoid the slap. As a result Gabrielle off balance, but still caught Brian’s face with some fingers caused some minor visible scratches.
Like Pratt, Robbins concluded that he did “not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis.” He decided that the best course of action would be to have the couple separated for the night. He got a hotel room for Laundrie and advised them not to contact each other until the next morning. The couple had been traveling in the van for about four or five months before the incident.
As of this writing, the FBI is still searching for Laundrie, who returned to his home on Sept. 1 without Petito. His parents said that last Friday, he left for the Carlton Reserve with his backpack. The authorities have stopped searching in this area. Laundrie is still considered a person of interest, not a suspect.
You can read the full details of the report below: