gabby petito

Gabby Petito Case: Autopsy Set for Tuesday as New Clues Emerge From Text and Van

A cause of death has yet to be determined after authorities discovered a body believed to be Gabby Petito near a Wyoming national park; boyfriend Brian Laundrie is still missing

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What to Know

  • FBI agents and police swarmed the home of a young man wanted for questioning in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito. At least a dozen agents and police officers converged Monday on the North Port, Florida, home Brian Laundrie shared with his parents
  • That comes a day after authorities announced the discovery of a body believed to be hers at a Wyoming national park. She had disappeared during a cross-country trip with Laundrie
  • Petito and Laundrie left in July in a converted van but Laundrie returned to Florida alone Sept. 1. He has been named a person of interest but has disappeared. A Florida park search turned up nothing.

BREAKING UPDATE: Body Found in Wyoming Park Confirmed to Be Gabby Petito, Death Ruled a Homicide

An autopsy was set for Tuesday to confirm the identity and a cause of death for a body discovered over the weekend at a Wyoming national park that the FBI believes is Gabby Petito, who vanished on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend.

That boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, hasn't been seen for a week. He has been described as a person of interest in Petito's disappearance and remains missing.

The body was recovered Sunday on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, which the couple had visited. No details on the body's condition or any potential trauma to it were released but investigators said the body matched the description of the 22-year-old woman reported missing by her family on Sept. 11.

It's not clear when authorities expect to get results from the medical examiner.

On Sept. 11, the family of 22-year-old Gabby Petito reported her missing to authorities in Suffolk County, New York. This is a timeline of events that led to the report and things that have occurred since.

A day ago, investigators turned their attention to Laundrie's home in Florida. At least a dozen law enforcement officers swooped in for a search. They removed several boxes and towed away a car that neighbors said was typically used by Laundrie’s mother. Local media said his parents were seen getting into a police vehicle at one point but they were later permitted back inside their home.

Laundrie, 23, and Petito had been living with his parents at the North Port home before the road trip.

The young couple had set out in July in a converted van to visit national parks in the West. They got into a fight along the way, and Laundrie was alone when he returned in the van to his parents’ home on Sept. 1, police said.

A day after Gabby Petito's body was found in Wyoming, there were stunning new developments in the missing person case that has been drawing nationwide attention. Pei-Sze Cheng reports from Florida, and Sarah Wallace has the latest from Wyoming.

Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the case, but his whereabouts in recent days were unknown. His attorney had scheduled a news conference for Tuesday but it was canceled.

Petito's father, Joseph, posted on social media an image of a broken heart above a picture of his daughter, with the message: "She touched the world."

In an interview broadcast Monday on TV's “Dr. Phil” show, Joseph Petito said Laundrie and his daughter had dated for 2 1/2 years, and Laundrie was “always respectful.” During the interview, which was recorded before the apparent discovery of his daughter's body, Joseph Petito said the couple had taken a previous road trip to California in her car and there were no problems.

“If there were, I would have discouraged going on the trip,” he said.

The father said his family began worrying after several days without hearing from her.

“We called Brian, we called the mom, we called the dad, we called the sister, we called every number that we could find,” Petito said. “No phone calls were picked up, no text messages were returned.”

From the van the couple traveled in together, investigators found and have gained permission to access a hard drive containing evidence connected to Gabby's disappearance, according to a filing of a search warrant in Florida.

The documents also included new public details, including that the last text message Petito's mother received from her phone was "odd." It read, "Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls."

The reference to Stan could regard Petito's grandfather, but Petito's mother said she never calls him "Stan," which made her concerned there was something wrong with her daughter. The phone was turned off that same day, more than two weeks (15 days) ago, the filing said.

The filing also said investigators believed there was a probable cause that the hard drive contained "evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed," according to the document.

Meanwhile, federal, state and local investigators are still trying to ascertain the whereabouts of Laundrie, who hasn't been seen since family members said they said him Tuesday. North Port, Florida, police scoured a vast nature preserve over the weekend and said Monday they felt they had exhausted that area.

On Sept. 11, the family of 22-year-old Gabby Petito reported her missing to authorities in Suffolk County, New York. This is a timeline of events that led to the report and things that have occurred since.

It's not clear where investigators planned to search for him next.

Petito's father said he wants Laundrie to be held accountable for whatever part he may have played in his daugther's disappearance, along with his family if they protected him from the consequences.

“I hope they get what’s coming, and that includes his folks,” Petito said. “Because I’ll tell you, right now, they are just as complicit, in my book.”

The FBI said investigators are seeking information from anyone who may have seen the couple around Grand Teton.

Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts who met while growing up on New York's Long Island. His parents later moved to North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota.

NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.
Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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