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Brian Laundrie’s sister broke the family’s silence in a new interview about missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito—but the comments didn’t sit well with Petito’s father.
Cassie Laundrie told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday morning that the family is hoping the case is resolved with a positive outcome for Petito, who disappeared while on a cross-country van trip with Brian.
“Me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” she said. “She’s like a sister and my children love her, and all I want is for her to come home safe and found and this to be just a big misunderstanding.”
After hearing the remarks, Gabby’s father, Joe Petito, criticized them in an interview with NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield, highlighting Brian's refusal thus far to meet with investigators and share what he knows about Gabby's disappearance.
“If that’s that family’s version of love, to just ignore and not care that someone’s gone,” he said. “And people are looking for them and entire countries looking for them, I mean, that explains how we got to where we are today. Because I mean, look at their version of what they call love.”
"We would like to talk to him," North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor told Oxygen.com on Tuesday. "The fact he was the last person seen with her makes him someone we would be interested in talking to.”
Cassie, however, told “Good Morning America” she had been cooperative and had not spoken to her brother since he returned to Florida.
“I wish I could talk to him,” she said. “I’ve cooperated every way that I can. I wish I had information or I would give more. This is all I have, I gave to the police.”
Brian returned to his family’s Florida home—where he had been living with Gabby before the cross-country venture—in the couple’s van on Sept. 1 without Gabby. Her mother, Nicole Schmidt, told Fox News that she last spoke with her daughter on August 25, when the couple was staying in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
It’s not clear where, or under what circumstances, the couple parted ways.
Just weeks before Gabby last spoke to her mother, she and Brian were stopped by the Moab Police after a concerned witness called 911 after observing the couple “arguing over a phone," according to a police report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Police also released body camera footage of the incident on Thursday which showed Petito crying as she spoke with an officer.
“We’ve just been fighting this morning, some personal issues,” she told the officer.
Laundrie and Petito told the officers that they both struggled with anxiety, and that fact, combined with “little arguments she had Brian had been having throughout the day,” had pushed them to a boiling point near a food cooperative.
“The male tried to create distance by telling Gabbie to go take a walk to calm down, she didn’t want to be separated from the male, and began slapping him,” fellow officer Eric Pratt wrote in account of the incident.
Laundrie allegedly “grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van,” the report states.
Police officers at the scene determined the incident had been more of a mental health incident after first considering arresting Petito for a domestic violence charge and opted instead to separate the couple for the night, sending Laundrie to a local hotel.
“I don’t know what started it,” Joe Petito told NewsNation of the argument after watching the video. “I wasn’t there. I can’t tell you. … This breaks my heart. I don’t want to see it. I didn’t want to watch it.”
He went on to add of his daughter, “She’s lost, she’s hurt and we got to help.”
Petito’s parents continue to plead for information in the case and released a letter to Laundrie’s family, through their attorney, asking them to help in the search, according to New York station WABC-TV.
“We believe you know the location where Brian left Gabby,” the letter read. “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.”
Petito has been described by police as a white female, approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several distinctive tattoos including one on her forearm that reads, “Let it be.”
Investigators are directing anyone with information in the case to call: 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).
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