An Instagram influencer was reported missing Sept. 11 by her family, after going on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé, and astute followers are noting that her last two posts had location tags removed.
The couple reportedly had an Aug. 12 dispute in Moab, Utah, that required police intervention. Police investigating the disappearance of Gabrielle Petito, who posts as @gabspetito on Instagram, have named her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, as a person of interest in the case. Laundrie has over 48,000 on his Instagram account, @bizarre_design_, while Petito has over 150,000.
According to the New York Times’ reporting on the case, Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23, set off from New York on July 2 for what was intended as a four-week road trip by van. The couple reportedly had plans to camp in national parks throughout the U.S. and document the journey on their respective platforms. (Both Instagram accounts include the #vanlife hashtag, and Petito’s bio includes a YouTube video documenting the start of the journey.)
On Aug. 12, Moab Police reportedly responded to a “domestic problem” between the couple. The Times, pulling from the police report, noted that Laundrie allegedly “told her to take a walk and calm down.” She, according to the report, allegedly didn’t want to be separated from him and began slapping him and that he allegedly “grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van.”
“He then tried to lock her out of the van,” the story went on to say, “but she managed to get in the driver’s side door and climb over him before the van took off. Laundrie and Petito both told the police that they were in love and engaged to be married and ‘desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.'”
Laundrie reportedly conveyed to police that Petito was in a “manic state” during that argument, and police arranged for Laundrie to stay in a hotel, while Petito separately stayed in the van.
Yahoo News added in its reporting that police became aware of the situation after pulling over the van, which was allegedly being driven erratically by Laundrie. Police reportedly observed that van going “45 mph in a 15 mph speed zone,” and “after the officer turned on his lights to pull over the vehicle, he said he witnessed it swerve and strike the curb before it came to a stop.”
Laundrie reportedly returned to North Port, Florida on Sept. 1 and returned the van, rented in Petito’s name. Since then, according to city spokesman Josh Taylor, Laundrie declined to talk to the police or to cooperate with the investigation, which now reportedly includes the FBI.
“We don’t know what Brian knows,” Taylor asserted, per Yahoo News’ reporting. “That’s the bottom line, and we’re hopeful to talk to him. He needs to talk to us.”
The Independent, in its report on the case, added that Petito has shared pictures from a number of locations on the trip, including Colorado Springs, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Mystic Hot Springs, and the Arches National Park.
However, her last two posts, on Aug. 19 and Aug. 25, didn’t include location tags, whereas her prior posts from the trip consistently included location tags.
And Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, reportedly said that she last received a message from her daughter’s phone on Aug. 30, which just read, “No service in Yosemite.”
“I don’t know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text,” she said. “I didn’t verbally speak to her.”
Her Aug. 19 post shows a view from inside the van, with a caption that reads, “Almost immediately after telling @bizarre_design_ how happy it made me to see that people were truly respectful of the park, I watched some guy leave his processed pre-packaged plastic conglomerate of lunch garbage on the picnic table!”
According to multiple reports, followers are speculating that Petito didn’t actually write the post. One observed, “The fact that these are old photos with no location makes me wonder.”
Her Aug. 25 post showed her holding a knit pumpkin with a caption reading, “Happy Halloween.”
One commenter said, “This post doesn’t add up. They were traveling across the country visiting state parks then all of a sudden a post where they are back in civilization with a generic description. This was not posted by Gabby.”
Another thought she recognized the background as a location in Ogden, Utah, and volunteered to be part of a search party for Petito.
The Daily Dot has reached out to both Laundrie and Taylor for comment.
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