Gabby Petito: Search warrant reveals rising tensions with Brian Laundrie and ‘odd’ final text message to mother

Gabby Petito’s mother was suspicious when her daughter referred to her grandfather by his first name Stan in a final 27 August text

Bevan Hurley
In New York
Tuesday 21 September 2021 09:05 BST
Related video: Body matching description of Gabby Petito found in Wyoming campground
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Text messages sent by Gabby Petito to her mother in the days before her disappearance showed growing strain between her and Brian Laundrie, a police search warrant has revealed.

Nichole Schmidt’s suspicions were further raised when she received a final “odd text” in which Ms Petito mentioned her grandfather by his first name “Stan” on 27 August, the warrant stated.

“Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls,” the text said, according to the warrant.

Ms Schmidt said the text was concerning because her daughter never called her grandfather by his first name.

“The mother was concerned something was wrong with her daughter,” the warrant said, and provided “probable cause” that a felony crime had been committed.

The warrant states that Ms Petito’s phone was switched off on 31 August or 1 September.

Ms Schmidt had previously told media she received a final text message from her daughter on 30 August which she believed to have been faked.

Police confiscated the Ford Transit van that the couple had been travelling in on September 11. They located an external hard drive in the van, and three days later on September 14 were granted a search warrant to examine the drive.

Police stated that they wanted to locate “any and all” external storage devices from the Laundrie family home, as well as retrieving emails, text messages and internet browsing history from devices.

Florida police and FBI agents swarmed the Laundrie family home on Monday as they executed a search warrant.

Officers with battering rams and body armour arrived at the home in North Port around 9:45am and declared the site a “crime scene”.

Mr Laundrie’s parents Christopher and Roberta were removed from the property as the search went room to room hunting for clues as to Mr Laundrie’s location.

Police search Brian Laundrie’s home in Florida a day after remains believed to be those of Gabby Petito discovered in Wyoming
Police search Brian Laundrie’s home in Florida a day after remains believed to be those of Gabby Petito discovered in Wyoming (Getty Images)

The search warrant was written by Daniel Alix, a detective with the North Port Police Department, and filed on Friday with Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit Court.

It also cited an altercation between the couple in Moab, Utah, on 12 August, as an additional reason to be concerned for Ms Petito’s safety.

In audio of a 911 call released on Monday, a witness reported seeing Mr Laundrie hit and slap Ms Petito.

Police pulled over the couple’s Ford Transit van soon after receiving the 911 call, but the incident was not deemed serious enough to press charges.

The timeline presented in the search warrant also stated concerns related to Ms Petito’s mental health, and that she may not be able to take care of herself due to “her increased anxiety”.

The warrant refers to Ms Petito by her full name, Gabrielle Venora Petito, and lists her date of birth as 19 March 1999.

Human remains believed to belong to Ms Petito were discovered in a remote part of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sunday.

An autopsy is expected to be completed on Tuesday.

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