NEW YORK - Police in Moab, Utah released body camera video Thursday of a visibly upset Gabrielle Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, taken after cops responded to a 911 call about a possible dispute between the couple.
Petito, 22, of North Port, Florida, was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11. Laundrie was named a person of interest in the case. He was not charged and was also not cooperating, according to police.
The video released by the Moab Police Department shows that an officer pulled over the van on Aug. 12 after it was seen speeding and hit a curb near the entrance to Arches National Park.
The responding officer asked Petito to step outside of the white van that the couple was traveling in while touring national parks and documenting it on YouTube.
"We’ve just been fighting this morning. Some personal issues," said Petito, adding that she suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder that affects her behavior.
"Yeah, I don’t know, it’s just some days, I have really bad OCD, and I was just cleaning and straightening up and I was apologizing to him saying that I’m so mean because sometimes I have OCD and get frustrated," she said.
A witness told police he saw Laundrie and Petito arguing over the phone. Petito then allegedly struck Laundrie in the arm and attempted to climb into the passenger side of their vehicle after apparently being locked out.
The officer brought Petito to his vehicle where he told her she should sit in the air conditioning and take a breath.
In another clip from the bodycam footage, Laundrie told the officer the couple got into a minor scuffle that began when he climbed into the van with dirty feet, and said he didn't want to pursue a domestic violence charge against Petito, who officers decided was the aggressor.
"I’m not going to pursue anything because she is my fiancée and I love her. It was just a squabble. Sorry it had to get so public," said Laundrie.
In the police report, Laundrie was listed as the victim and Petito as the suspect, but Chief Bret Edge said there was not enough evidence for charges.
"She gets worked up sometimes so I try to distance myself from her. "We really had a nice morning she got really worked up," said Laundrie.
"Neither Brian nor Gabrielle were the reporting party," he said. "Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges."
"The male tried to create distance by telling Gabbie to take a walk to calm down," he wrote. "She didn't want to be separated from the male, and began slapping him. He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van."
Police said all parties agreed that Petito had slapped Laundrie and that he had not struck her, and that there were no serious injuries and no party wanted to press charges.
Petito reportedly told officers she suffered from serious anxiety and other redacted medical conditions, and police categorized the incident as a "mental/emotional health break" rather than a domestic assault.
Petito told police that the arguments between the couple had been building over the past couple of days. They agreed to separate for the night, and police helped Laundrie get a hotel room while Petito took possession of the van.
According to police, the couple did not wish to separate, but officers required them to do so in lieu of no charges being filed. A responding officer deemed Laundrie to be "at low risk of danger or harm as a result of his proximity to his fiancee Gabbie."
Petito, 22, and the 23-year-old Laundrie started their drive across the U.S. in July from New York's Long Island, where both grew up. They intended to reach Oregon by Halloween according to their social media accounts, but Petito vanished after her last known contact with family in late August from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, authorities said.
Laundrie drove the Ford Transit van back to Florida on Sept. 1 alone, police said. Petito's family filed a missing persons report last Saturday with police in Suffolk County, New York.
Laundrie's attorney, Steven Bertolino, said the Laundrie family is hoping for Petito's safe return, but he's asked them not to speak with investigators.
"Everybody has rights and we respect the Constitution and their rights," Garrison acknowledged Thursday on ABC’s "Good Morning America." "I can’t speculate as to why he’s not talking, but he has the pieces to the puzzle that we need to find Gabby."
Garrison said at a news conference Thursday that the investigation remains a missing persons case, not a murder probe, and that no intensive searches have begun because it's unclear exactly where authorities might look.
"We're still trying to nail down geographic areas," the chief said. "There's a lot of information we are going through. Our focus is to find Gabby."
Gabby's mother, Nichole, is believed to have been the last person to hear from Gabby. On August 30, she received a text from her daughter but says she isn't convinced her daughter sent it.
On Thursday, Rick Stafford, the Petito family's attorney revealed a letter Gabby's parents wrote to Laundrie's parents, begging for more information about Gabby's whereabouts.
"We believe you know the location where Brian left Gabby," the letter reads. "We beg you to tell us. As a parent, how could you let us go through this pain and not help us… Please, if you or your family has any decent left, please tell us where Gabby is located. Tell us if we are even looking in the right place."
"What I want from everybody here is help. Whatever you can do to make sure my daughter comes home, I’m asking you to help. Nothing else matters right now," Joe Petito said.
Authorities are also looking for any possible connection between Petito's disappearance and the still-unsolved slaying of two women who were fatally shot at a campsite near Moab.
Their bodies were found Aug. 18, six days after the incident between Laundrie and Petito. The two women, Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, had told friends they feared a "creepy man" they had seen nearby might harm them.
"They're looking into that potential connection," said Joshua Taylor, public information officer for North Port police. "I have not heard of any information that links these two cases together. I understand the timing is suspicious. You never know. I'm not going to say we've ruled it out."
Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts on Long Island before moving from Blue Point, New York, in 2019 to live with his parents in North Port, about 34 miles (54 kilometers) south of Sarasota.
An eight-minute YouTube video titled "Van Life: Beginning our Van Life Journey" features happy and romantic scenes from the couple’s trip.
Petito is white, 5-foot-5 (1.6 meters) and about 110 pounds (50 kilograms), with blonde hair and blue eyes, police said. She has several tattoos including one on a forearm that reads, "let it be."
With the Associated Press