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Search continues for missing North Port woman

Gabby Petito
Photo of Gabby Petito from her Instagram feed

Gabby Petito was reported missing by her family in New Jersey after not returning with her fiancé and van from several months visiting west coast national parks.

Update: 9/20/2021:
This weekend, police say they found the remains of Gabby Petito, the missing North Port 22-year-old whose disappearance made national headlines. According to the North Port Police department and the FBI, remains matching her description were found near Grand Teton National Park, her last known location. She had been on a months-long trip with her fiancé in which they camped in a van and were visiting national parks. In late August, Petito's family said they stopped hearing from her, then on September first, her fiancé, Brian Laundrie (laundry) returned to their home in North Port with the van in which they'd been traveling. Ten days later, Petito's parents filed a missing person's report. Throughout, Laundrie refused to talk with police. According to the North Port Police Department, Laundrie went missing on Tuesday of last week and they are now searching the area around Carlton Reserve to the North of North Port. At the request of Laundrie's family, the FBI was at the family's home on Friday night, when they reported the 23-year-old had been missing since Tuesday. The search for Laundrie continues- he was not named as a suspect, only a person of interest. The cause of Petito's death is not known at this time and the FBI reports it is awaiting 100% confirmation of her identity before releasing more information. The agency has, however, extended its sympathy to the Petito family.

The father of a missing North Port woman pleaded with the public Thursday during a news conference to help police with any information to help in the search for Gabby Petito, whose disappearance has riveted the nation.

The 22 year old was last heard from in late August. She and her fiancé had been on a months’ long trip to national parks on the west coast, which she had been documenting through social media.

"What I need from everybody here is help," said Joseph Petito, "because the goal is still not met. And that goal is to bring Gabby home safely."

North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison had little new information to share at that news conference. "Well we share the frustration with the world right now. You know. Two people went on a trip. One person returned. And that person who returned is not providing us any information,” said Garrison.

That person, Brian Laundrie, is the missing woman’s fiancé, who returned on September first to the couple’s residence in North Port. He was driving the van the two were travelling in. Laundrie has been named a “person of interest” and refuses to talk with police.

Petito's father made a pointed plea, highlighting that tips can be made anonymously, "I'm asking for help from everyone here, I'm asking for help from everyone at home. I'm asking for help from the parents of Brian. And I'm asking for the help of family members and friends of the Laundrie family, as well."

Garrison says right now all he can focus on is finding the missing young woman. “Right now this is a missing person case. And our focus is to find Gabby. Our focus is not to bring Brian in right now. It’s to find Gabby. Brian is exercising his constitutional rights, and I respect that, but right now the focus is on finding Gabby,” Garrison said.

The FBI has set up a national hotline to receive tips. 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).