Family members, police and the FBI are searching for a New York woman who was traveling across the United States with her partner before she went missing. Her partner returned home without her and no one has heard from her in weeks. Her story is now grabbing national headlines.
Gabby Petito, 22, of Long Island, New York, was last seen on Aug. 24 when she checked out of a Salt Lake City hotel with her partner of two and a half years, Brian Laundrie, 23. She was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11.
Petito and Laundrie were documenting their cross-country experiences as "van-lifers" across the US on a YouTube channel called 'Nomadic Statik.' She FaceTimed her mother regularly but her mother grew worried after she hadn't heard from her for several days and alerted the authorities.
Laundrie is now a "person of interest" in the case. According to North Port Police, Laundrie returned to Florida alone in the van on Sept. 1, 10 days before Petito was reported missing. Laundrie's whereabouts are unknown, as of Friday, and family members say they haven't seen him since Tuesday, according to North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor.
Petito Spotted at Lodi Truck Stop Rumors
As the search for Petito continued, on Thursday, Sept. 16, a Facebook post started circulating on social media, claiming a woman who resembled Petito was spotted at a truck stop in Lodi, California.
It appeared to consist of a screenshot of a post to the private group "Lodi Crime & Police Scanner calls," and it read as follows:
"Omg it's just breaks my heart. Young girl walking around the truck stop. It hasn't looked to be older than 23. Keep walked into the diner seems mentally unstable Asked where her family is if she missed them."
The post was accompanied with a series close-up comparison shots of Petitio and the woman seen at the truck stop. Not long after the post went viral, commenters drew Gabby's father, Joseph Petito's attention to the screenshot. However, Joseph confirmed that the woman at the Lodi truck stop was not his daughter.
Petito's comments were awash in screenshots of the post. In response to one, he wrote, "[Jaelyn Ross] yeah. It's not her. I appreciate all your help. Than[k] you so much."