Utah Police Launch Internal Probe Into Handling of Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie Incident

Police in North Port, Florida, returned to the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve once again Thursday as they continue to look for the FBI's prime person of interest, Gabby Petito's missing fiancé Brian Laundrie

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What to Know

  • A county coroner confirmed human remains found in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park are Gabby Petito and ruled her death a homicide. It's not yet clear how exactly she died; that's pending more analysis
  • The FBI's prime person of interest, her fiancé Brian Laundrie, has been missing for more than a week since telling his family he was going for a hike in a sprawling Florida nature preserve
  • Cops returned to that swampy 25,000-acre area Thursday for a third straight day as they continue their search for him

Police in Moab, Utah, said Thursday they are launching an internal investigation into their handling of an Aug. 12 incident involving Gabby Petito, the young woman whose remains were found in Wyoming earlier this week, and her fiance Brian Laundrie, who hasn't been seen since mid-September.

Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge said in a statement that an "outside party" filed a request asking for a formal investigation into the department's response, though didn't identify that outside party.

"We take all complaints seriously and we are committed to fully addressing these concerns. In compliance with police department policy, we will conduct an investigation. The police department will identify an unaffiliated law enforcement agency to conduct the formal investigation on our behalf," Edge said.

"Should the investigation identify areas for improvement we will take that information to heart, learn from it, and make changes if needed to ensure we are providing the best response and service to our community," he added.

That Aug. 12 incident happened 15 days before officials say Petito's cellphone was shut off for good -- and before she and Laundrie made it to Wyoming. According to investigators, a witness called police after seeing them involved in an argument.

The search for Brian Laundrie, the fiance and person of interest in the death of Gabby Petito, is intensifying. Sarah Wallace reports.

In the 911 call, the witness said he saw the man slapping the woman. In written testimony, another witness said that "something seemed off" as he saw a couple having a fight, with the man seeming to take the woman's phone and lock her out of the van. At one point, the woman was "punching him in the arm and/or face & trying to get into the van," police reports have said.

Moab City police pulled over their van near the entrance to Arches National Park to speak with the couple. Body camera footage shows Petito crying and very emotional. The couple described their fight to police and no charges were filed, though the two were separated. Laundrie went to a hotel for the night, while Petito stayed with the white van the couple had been traveling the country in.

Laundrie returned to his Florida home in that white van on Sept. 1. He was alone. Ten days later, Petito's body was recovered from the national park the two had been visiting in Wyoming. Her death was ruled a homicide, though exactly how she died -- a critical point for investigators -- remains pending further forensic analysis.

The fiance, meanwhile, vanished on Sept. 14 after his family told cops he told them he was going for a hike in a 25,000 nature preserve. Law enforcement officers and specialized teams have been searching for Laundrie, the FBI's prime person of interest in Petito's case, in that preserve since Saturday. Nothing has been found.

Do you know anything that can help investigators? Call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit tips online here

Federal and local law enforcement continue to ask the public for tips. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI or visit tips.fbi.gov.

Missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie left Long Island, New York, on July 2 for a months-long cross-country road trip, much of which they documented on social media. LX News host Tabitha Lipkin walks through the timeline of their trip based on Instagram posts, police video and other media.
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