Police have released video footage of a missing Florida woman, 22, in an emotional fight with her boyfriend just days before vanishing.
Gabby Petito and her long-time partner, Brian Laundrie, were travelling the US in a converted 2012 Ford camper van and documented their travels on a YouTube channel called "Nomadic Statik" when she disappeared in late August.
She was last seen on August 24 leaving a hotel with Mr Laundrie in Salt Lake City, Utah, her family has said.
Police in North Port, Florida, where the couple lived, say Mr Laundrie is a “person of interest” in her disappearance. He’s not been charged, but he’s also not cooperating, police say.
It was revealed on Thursday that just days before the 22-year-old was last seen, police in Moab, Utah, had encountered the pair mid-fight.
A video released by the Moab Police Department shows that an officer pulled over the couple’s van on August 12 after it was seen speeding and hit a curb near the entrance to Arches National Park.
Police had received a call from a witness at the park who saw the pair involved in an altercation and told officers they had sped off in a white van, according to a police report, ABC News reports.
The couple admitted to police that they had been arguing and that Ms Petito had slapped Mr Laundrie, the police report says. They both said Mr Laundrie had not been violent.
Gabby Petito sobs to police officers
The officer’s body camera shows Ms Petito crying as she talks to police and sits inside the officer’s car.
“We’ve just been fighting this morning. Some personal issues,” she tells him, adding that she suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder that affects her behaviour.
“Some days, I have really bad OCD, and I was just cleaning and straightening up and I was apologising to him saying that I’m so mean because sometimes I have OCD and get frustrated,” she said.
Mr Laundrie can be heard telling police the couple got into a minor scuffle that began when he climbed into the van with dirty feet. He said he didn’t want to pursue a domestic violence charge against Ms Petito, who officers decided was the aggressor.
“I’m not going to pursue anything because she is my fiancée and I love her. It was just a squabble. Sorry it had to get so public,” he says.
Ultimately Moab police decided not file any charges and instead separated the couple for the night, with Mr Laundrie checking into a motel and Ms Petito staying in the converted sleeper van.
Mr Laundrie arrived home with the vehicle on September 1 alone. Ms Petito’s family filed a missing persons report in their home state of New York on Saturday (local time).
While the search for Ms Petito continues, police said they are also investigating if there is a link between her disappearance and the murders of a newlywed couple camping in Grand County, Utah, on August 13, the Grand County Sheriff's Office announced on Thursday, ABC News reports.
Missing woman’s family begs for answers
Ms Petito’s parents released a letter through their attorney this week to Mr Laundrie’s parents, asking them to help investigators locate their daughter.
“We believe you know the location of where Brian left Gabby,” the letter said.
“We beg you to tell us. As a parent, how could you let us go through this pain and not help us? As a parent, how could you put Gabby’s younger brothers and sisters through this?”
Mr Laundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, said the Laundrie family is hoping for the 22-year-old’s safe return, but he’s asked them not to speak with investigators.
“I can’t speculate as to why he’s not talking, but he has the pieces to the puzzle that we need to find Gabby,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said on Thursday (local time) on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“Two people left on a trip and one person returned!” Chief Garrison previously tweeted.
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