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Police in Utah have released bodycam footage that shows the aftermath of a domestic incident between missing New York native Gabby Petito and her boyfriend weeks before she vanished.
Petito, 22, was reported missing on Saturday by her family in Long Island after they lost contact with her in late August, according to a statement from the Suffolk County Police Department previously obtained by Oxygen.com. She disappeared as she and her 23-year-old boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, were traveling across the country in her converted camper van. Laundrie is now considered a person of interest in her disappearance; he returned to his hometown of North Port, Florida with her van 10 days prior to Petito being reported missing and police say he's hasn't been cooperating with their investigation. He has not been charged with a crime.
The couple were pulled over on August 12 in Moab, Utah after police received a call from a third party about a "domestic disturbance" outside the Moonflower Community Cooperative, according to a police report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Bodycam footage, obtained by NBC2 News in Fort Myers, Florida, shows officers pulling over the van, which hits a curb in the process of stopping.
The officers question Petito and Laundrie separately. An emotional Petito explains that she and Laundrie got into a fight and she blamed her mental health issues for it. She said she has obsessive-compulsive disorder and that she may have been coming off as “mean.”
“Sometimes I get really frustrated,” she said.
She also blamed his attitude toward her work, explaining she had been working on her blog that morning.
"He doesn't really believe I could do any of it,” she said.
The fight escalated to Laundrie locking Petito out of her van, she said. She admitted slapping him when she felt he was going to abandon her in Moab. Petito reluctantly admitted, after one of the officers prodded her, that Laundrie grabbed her by the face and pushed her.
Petito also admitted to hitting Laundrie and calling him “stupid” as they were being pulled over.
Officers noticed several injuries on Laundrie — scratches on both his face and his hand. Laundrie blamed the scratches on his hand on a wire. An officer asked to take photos of Laundrie’s superficial injuries, though he resisted. He complied after being told the alternative would be to call an ambulance.
Police described Petito as the “primary aggressor” and Laundrie laughed as police told him he was considered the victim. The officers decided not to make any arrests and instead separated the two, taking Laundrie to a hotel to spend the night, with Petito remaining with the van. Both agreed to not contact each other until the next morning. Police Chief Bret Edge told Oxygen.com that police did not press charges citing a lack of evidence "to justify criminal charges."
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, has said that the last time she verbally spoke to her daughter was on Aug. 25 when she and Laundrie were camping in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
On Tuesday, Petito’s parents released a statement pleading with Laundrie to provide more information about their daughter’s possible whereabouts, NBC News reports.
“The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives,” the statement reads. “Their beautiful 22-year-old daughter is missing and the one person who can help find Gabby refuses to help.”
Laundrie released a statement through his attorney on Tuesday that reads, “on behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family.”
It goes on to say that “on the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment."
On Aug. 19, Petito posted an upbeat eight-minute video on YouTube documenting the couple’s journey. The video, entitled “Beginning Our Van Life Journey,” shows the couple laughing, kissing, and doing cartwheels on the beach.
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, along with several distinctive tattoos including one on her forearm that reads, “Let it be.”
Anyone with information on Petito’s disappearance is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls can remain anonymous.
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