The stepfather of a New York woman who reportedly disappeared while in Grand Teton National Park in September has flown out to Wyoming to help in the search.
The New York Post reported that James Schmidt, the stepfather of 22-year-old YouTuber Gabby Petito arrived in the state on Tuesday.
“He’s not leaving until he brings Gabby home,”Nicole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, told the Post. “Now we have eyes, ears, feet on the ground in both her home state and where she was last seen.”
Authorities believe Petito was last seen with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, in Grand Teton National Park.
Since that time, the van they had been traveling in has been located and Laundrie is in his home state of Florida. However, he is not cooperating with authorities.
On Wednesday, law enforcement officials in Florida told the Miami Herald that Laundrie, now listed as a person of interest, is “hindering” the investigation.
“We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said. “The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out.”
Utah authorities, also on Wednesday, announced that police were called to an incident between Petito and Laundrie in August. The two were in Moab, Utah, immediately before they traveling to Wyoming.
“Our officers did respond to an incident involving Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito on 12 August 2021,” Chief Bret Edge told 2News, “however, neither Brian or Gabrielle were the reporting party. Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.”
The New York Post, which acquired a copy of the police report, said the couple was apparently in an argument which became physical.
“Brian said Gabrielle, thinking he was going to leave her in Moab without a ride, went to slap him,” the report said. “As Gabrielle started to swing, Brian pushed her away to avoided the slap. As a result Gabrielle, off-balance, but still caught Brian’s face with some fingers causing minor visible scratches.”
The report went on to say that neither party wanted to press charges.
Laundrie did release a statement from his attorney on Tuesday which said he and his parents hoped Petito was found.
The statement’s release only incensed Petito’s father.
Appearing on FOX News Wednesday, Joe Petito called the statement “bullshit”.
“Forget Brian, Brian’s home safe. His parents, yeah it’s hard for them. Bullshit. You know what? My daughter is not here. Our daughter is not here. We don’t even know what state she’s in,” Petito said.
“You know, we’re shooting from the hip here and trying to do what we can. So I don’t care about the statement. I care about finding Gabby,” he said.