Brian Laundrie’s Sister Says She Hasn’t Spoken to Him Since Gabby Petito Disappeared

The police said on Friday evening that they had spoken to the family of a Florida man who has been declared a “person of interest” in the disappearance of his fiancée, who was reported missing after he returned home from a monthslong, cross-country van trip without her.

Local news stations showed officers entering the home in North Port, Fla., where the man, Brian Laundrie, 23, and his parents live, as the authorities continued to investigate the disappearance of his fiancée, Gabrielle Petito, 22.

In a statement on Twitter, the North Port police said that they had spoken to the Laundrie family “at their request.”

“At this time, we are not speaking with Brian,” the statement said.

The North Port police chief, Todd Garrison, told CNN that Mr. Laundrie was “physically not in the home, as far as I’m aware right now.”

“He could be anywhere,” he said.

Later on Friday night, Chief Garrison said on Twitter: “The conversation at the Laundrie home is complete. Once we have the details, a statement will be made. We ask for calm!”

While the officers were inside the home, people outside had been shouting insults at Mr. Laundrie, and yelling, “Where is Gabby?”

Through a lawyer, Mr. Laundrie has declined to speak with investigators, the police said. He has not been arrested or declared a suspect in the case; the police have described him only as a person of interest, a vague term often used by law enforcement agencies to identify a person who they believe may have been involved in a crime.

Mr. Laundrie had returned home alone on Sept. 1 from the cross-country van trip with Ms. Petito. Her parents reported her missing 10 days later.

In an interview broadcast on Friday on the ABC program “Good Morning America,” Mr. Laundrie’s sister Cassie Laundrie said she had not spoken to him since he returned to his home in North Port, which is near Fort Myers.

“I wish I could talk to him,” she said. “I’ve cooperated every way that I can. I wish I had information or I would give more.”

Ms. Laundrie said her brother was the type of person who did the right thing for his family and Ms. Petito.

“He’s a wonderful uncle,” she said. “He’s always been there when I need him. He’s been there every time Gabby has needed him.”

Ms. Laundrie became the first member of Mr. Laundrie’s family to speak publicly about the case, when portions of the interview were released on Thursday night.

“Obviously, me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” Ms. Laundrie told ABC. “She’s like a sister and my children love her, and all I want is for her to come home safe and sound, and this to be just a big misunderstanding.”

A lawyer for the Laundrie family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chief Garrison said on Thursday that Ms. Petito’s disappearance was being treated as a “missing persons” case.

Josh Taylor, a spokesman for the department, said the police had no reason to arrest Mr. Laundrie, who returned to Florida in the van, which is registered to Ms. Petito and has not been reported stolen.

“The reality of that situation is that it was a common-use vehicle between the two of them,” Mr. Taylor said. The state law does not allow the police to arrest Mr. Laundrie any more than it allows for the arrest of a teenager found driving his or her parents’ car, he said.

Mr. Taylor said that “law enforcement has touched base with a sister” of Mr. Laundrie’s. “It is my understanding that nothing of substance has been shared,” he said. “Brian has still not spoken to us.”

F.B.I. agents, National Park rangers and police officers in at least two states have been searching for Ms. Petito, since her parents reported her missing on Sept. 11.

Her father, Joseph Petito, said in an interview released on Friday by the North Port police that family members had gone to Wyoming because it was “the last known place that we have.”

“We’ve got to start somewhere,” he said. “There’s 2,500 miles between Wyoming and Florida, so if we start now it’s less we have to do when we pinpoint a better location. That’s how we look at it. What if we get lucky, and we don’t need Brian anymore, and we find her right now?”

Ms. Petito left with Mr. Laundrie in July in a white Ford van outfitted for a cross-country adventure, according to the police.

Speaking to reporters in Florida on Thursday, Mr. Petito called on Mr. Laundrie’s parents to speak with the police and said he remained determined to find her alive. “What I need from everybody here is help,” he said.

In the video that the police released on Friday, Mr. Petito called on people who know Brian Laundrie’s parents to put pressure on them to say something.

“I’ll let the courts and, you know, society judge them,” he said. “I already did my judgment, it’s not going to change. So now I’m focusing on what matters. I just hope people pay attention. I hope people look.”

The case has drawn widespread attention, as reporters have gathered outside Mr. Laundrie’s house and members of the public have scoured the couple’s Instagram accounts, which depicted a seemingly carefree, nomadic “Van Life” in the American West.

Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie left New York on July 2 for what was supposed to be a four-month cross-country trip visiting national parks, said Ms. Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt.

Mr. Laundrie posted on Instagram that they were “downsizing our life into this itty bitty van.” Ms. Petito posted that converting a Ford Transit into a camper was “an adventure in itself.” The van was decorated with plants and outfitted with a bed, tiny bookcases and a small wooden counter to prepare food.

On Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah, Mr. Laundrie had “some sort of argument” with Ms. Petito and told her to take a walk and calm down, according to the Moab police, who responded to a report of a “domestic problem.”

Mr. Laundrie and Ms. Petito both told the police that they were in love and engaged to be married and “desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.”

Mr. Laundrie told an officer that “issues between the two had been building over the last few days,” a police report said.

Ms. Petito cried during the encounter with the police and said she suffered from anxiety, according to body camera footage of the episode. In the police report, Ms. Petito is recorded saying she moved to slap Mr. Laundrie because she feared that he “was going to leave her in Moab without a ride.”

Both told the police that the episode should be classified as a “mental/emotional health ‘break,’” rather than as a domestic assault, according to the report.

Ms. Laundrie said a police body camera recording showing the encounter was a familiar scene.

“It looked typical of both of them,” she told ABC. “Whenever they fight, they would take a little break and come back and be fine, because that’s what you do in a couple.”

In the report, the police described Mr. Laundrie as the victim of the incident. They arranged for him to stay in a hotel that night while Ms. Petito kept the van. No charges were filed, the report states.

On Instagram, Ms. Petito kept a personal blog of their journeys. In many of the posts published before her disappearance, she was photographed smiling and posing against backdrops of nature.

Ms. Petito, the oldest of six siblings, had been working as a pharmacy technician to save money for the trip. She met Mr. Laundrie at Bayport-Blue Point High School on Long Island, Mr. Schmidt said. They began dating after graduation and moved two years ago to Florida, he said.

Johnny Diaz contributed reporting.

Author: diyg

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