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Fiance of missing Long Island woman goes missing too, attorney says

Residents of Gabby Petito's hometown said they're hoping

Residents of Gabby Petito's hometown said they're hoping and praying for her safe return. Petito, who was on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé, hasn't been heard from since last month. Newsday's Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Howard Schnapp; Moab City Police Dept.; YouTube/Nomadic Statik; YouTube/ North Port Police Dept.; Photo Credit: Petito Family

Brian Laundrie, the man labeled by police as a "person of interest" in the disappearance of his fiancee, Blue Point native Gabrielle Petito, has gone missing from his Florida home, police in Florida and his attorney said.

"The North Port Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations are currently searching for 23-year-old Brian Laundrie of North Port," the department, the leading investigative body into Petito's disappearance, said in a statement late Friday. "The family now claims they have not seen Brian since Tuesday of this week."

Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino told Newsday that Laundrie’s location is "currently unknown. The FBI is currently at the Laundrie residence removing property to assist in locating Brian. As of now the FBI is now looking for both Gabby and Brian."

Bertolino also told Newsday that Laundrie was last seen by his family on Tuesday morning.

"We understand the community's frustration, we are frustrated too," the North Port police statement said. "For six days, the North Port Police Department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian's fiance Gabby Petito. Friday is the first time they have spoken with investigators in detail."

North Port police added that while Laundrie remains a person of interest in Petito's disappearance, "he is not wanted for a crime."

"We are not currently working a crime investigation. We are now working multiple missing person investigations."

Police urged anyone with information to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

In a statement issued through their attorney, Richard Stafford, late Friday night, Petito's family said, "All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing."

Laundrie’s disappearance adds another layer of mystery to a case that has garnered national attention in the last few days.

Early Friday, Laundrie's sister told "Good Morning America" Friday it was "typical" for the couple to fight and then take a break.

In the "GMA" interview, Cassie Laundrie spoke about body camera footage released by police this week after officers responded to a report of an altercation between the couple on Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah.

Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23, both graduates of Bayport-Blue Point High School who lived in North Port, had been traveling across the country together in a 2012 Ford Transit van. The couple documented their "van life journey" on social media and posted an eight-minute video about their trip on YouTube.

Gabrielle Petito was last seen in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in late August. She was reported missing by her mother, Nichole Schmidt, of Blue Point, on Sept. 11 to the Suffolk County Police Department.

"It was typical of both of them," Cassie Laundrie said Friday. "Whenever they’d fight they would take a little break, come back and be fine. Because that’s what you do in a couple."

Joshua Taylor, a spokesman for North Port police, said earlier Friday said that authorities have contacted Cassie Laundrie but that "nothing of substance" was shared.

Meanwhile, Taylor confirmed that police have also spoken with Miranda Baker, a woman who has posted videos on TikTok claiming that she picked up Brian Laundrie while he was hiking alone in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Aug. 29.

"He approached us asking for a ride because he needed to go to Jackson and we were going to Jackson that night," Baker said. "So I said, 'you know, hop in' and he hopped in the back of my Jeep. … He offered to pay us like $200 to give him a ride like 10 miles. So, that was kind of weird. He then told us he's been camping for multiple days without his fiance. He did say he had a fiance and that she was working on their social media page back at their van.

"Then once in conversation I brought up 'we're going to Jackson,' he freaked out. He's like 'nope.' I need to get out right now. Pull over."

Baker said they let him out near Jackson Dam in Grand Teton National Park.

"It was a weird situation," Baker said. "When we picked him up he was wearing a backpack, he had long sleeves, pants, hiking boots, and he had like, scruff but, he didn't look dirty. For someone who was camping for multiple days … he didn't look dirty. He didn't smell dirty."

The reported encounter was four days after Petito's family last heard from her and three days before Brian Laundrie showed up in Florida alone.

"We’re aware and have spoken to her," Taylor told Newsday Friday. "I cannot confirm anything more with that."

The 1-hour, 17-minute body camera video, obtained by Newsday through a public records request, shows Petito and Laundrie telling Moab police officers that they had been arguing and got into a physical altercation.

"We've been fighting all morning and he wouldn't let me in the car before; he told me I needed to calm down," a crying Petito tells police in the footage, which was recorded two weeks before she last communicated with her family. "He really stresses me out. It was just a rough morning."

Moab police instructed Laundrie and Petito to separate until the morning and, in an official report, described the situation as a "mental health crisis." Petito, who told police she had quit her job as a nutritionist at an organic juice bar to travel, left in the van while authorities dropped off Laundrie at a nearby motel.

Petito stopped communicating with her family by phone in late August, and Laundrie returned to Florida alone in the van on Sept. 1, police said.

Members of the Petito family have been critical of Brian Laundrie and his family for not speaking publicly about the disappearance and instead using an attorney to issue statements to the media for them.

Members of both the Petito and Laundrie families, along with their respective attorneys, did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

In the "GMA" interview, Cassie Laundrie said she has not been able to speak with her brother but that she's cooperated with the investigation. "I just wish I could talk to him," she said.

The investigation into Petito's disappearance has garnered headlines around the world and now includes multiple federal, state and local agencies in several states.

On Friday, the FBI's Denver field office said it was "working with our partners in the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson Police Department, the National Park Service, and other state and local law enforcement agencies across the country in the investigation of Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito’s disappearance."

Meanwhile, the Grand County Sheriff's Office in Utah said in a statement that Petito's disappearance "is not related" to the double homicide of newlyweds Crystal Turner, 38 and Kylen Schulte, 24, who were found shot to death at a campground southeast of Moab on Aug. 18. Petito was in Wyoming several days later.

Cassie Laundrie said her family wants Petito to be found safe.

"She’s like a sister — and my children love her," Laundrie said in the interview. "All we want is for her to come home safe and sound and this to be just a big misunderstanding."

With Cecilia Dowd and John Valenti

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