NEW YORK - The family of the boyfriend of a 22-year-old Long Island woman who disappeared while on a cross-country road trip has issued a statement through a lawyer.
Gabby Petito, 22, left New York on a road trip with her boyfriend in a converted camper van in early July to tour National Parks, according to her family, but she disappeared in late August and they haven't heard from her in more than two weeks.
East Islip lawyer Steven P. Bertolino released the following statement Tuesday on behalf of the Laundrie family.
It states: "This is understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family.
It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito- in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family."
The statement ends with: "On the advice of counsel the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment."
Suffolk County Police detectives are investigating the disappearance.
Petito's family reported her missing on September 11 at approximately 6:55 p.m. According to the family, they were last in contact with her during the last week of August.
"We don't eat or sleep," her mother Nichole Schmidt says. "We're actively looking for her. I believe a mother's instinct is the most powerful."
Prior to the last communication, Petito is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Schmidt is concerned about her welfare.
"I don't know if she left Grand Teton or not," Schmidt said. "I did receive a text from her on the 27th and the 30th, but I don't know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text. I didn't verbally speak to her."
Petito, 22, of Blue Point, is described as a white female, approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads "let it be." The van she was traveling in has been recovered.
"You read stories like this you sympathize and empathize but when you’re in it, it’s an indescribable, horrible, unfathomable experience," her father Joseph Petito said. "We need to find her. I'm begging for everyone.
Detectives are asking anyone with information on Petito’s disappearance to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. Police say that all calls can remain anonymous.
The white van has been recovered at the Florida home of her boyfriend's parents.
The couple started a YouTube channel to showcase their road trip called "Nomadic Statik."
Petito was also documenting the journey on Instagram. Her profile said: "Along for the ride" and "traveling the world in our tiny van". Her last post was two weeks ago.
A family friend has started a GoFundMe to raise money to help in the search for Gabby Petito. The page calls her disappearance suspicious.