Gabby Petito was warned by a Utah park ranger that her relationship with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie was "toxic" while responding to a "possible domestic assault" incident involving the couple in August. Melissa Hulls, the visitor and resource protection supervisor at Arches National Park, reportedly told Petito that her relationship was going nowhere and that she should reassess it.
When Hulls responded to the call on August 12, she found Petito sobbing and tried to talk to her thinking that that might comfort her. However, Petito didn't understand that and days later went missing. The 22-year-old Long Island native was found dead on Sunday at the Wyoming national park.
Hulk may not have imagined that Petito would go missing and then be found dead but she definitely did realize that everything wasn't right in the couple's relationship. She warned the van life woman that her relationship was "toxic" during that incident as she was "imploring with [Petito] to reevaluate the relationship" but she didn't understand "how big a deal this was."
"I was probably more candid with her than I should've been," Hulls told Deseret News in an interview about her conversation with Petito on August 12. Hulls was responding to a call following an argument between Petito and Laundrie.
After a police officer made the couple pull over the car inside the park and put them inside the police vehicle. Hulls approached Petito to talk to her. When she reached closer, she was sobbing in the back of a police cruiser. Seeing her cry Hulls felt that she would feel comfortable speaking to a woman as she was going through an emotional trauma.
"I was imploring with her to re-evaluate the relationship," Hull told the outlet. She then asked her "if she was happy in the relationship with him, and basically saying this was an opportunity for her to find another path, to make a change in her life."
Police released bodycam footage of the incident last week, days before Laundrie vanished and Petito was found dead. The bodycam image shows Petito sobbing and telling officers that the couple had been "fighting all morning. The video was widely viewed and cops in their report determined that Petito she was the "primary aggressor" as Laundrie was seen with scratch marks on his face.
However, the initial 911 call, released on Monday, has since revealed that Petito may not have been the "primary aggressor" as the call was made by a witness who reported seeing a "gentleman was slapping the girl". The audio of the call clearly contradicts the police report now.
An officer wrote "it was reported the male had been observed to have assaulted the female," but later determined that "no one reported that the male struck the female." No charges were filed that day and the incident was classified by police as a "mental/emotional health break."
However, questions now arise why the police tried to showcase Petito as the aggressor. According to the Daily Mail, a forensic psychiatrist has also spoken out to say that the footage of the August 12 incident, a couple of weeks before Petito last communicated with her mother, raises 'red flags' and suggests she was "scared" of her boyfriend.
According to Hulls, the couple after talking to the police, even reportedly decided to spend the night separately. "This wasn't a good day for anybody. We thought we were making the right decision when we left them," Hulls told the newspaper.
"I wouldn't have called (the relationship) unsafe. If we had any reason to think any one of them was in danger, we would've separated them," she said.
Meanwhile, Laundrie is still untraceable with his parents telling cops on Friday they had not seen him since last Tuesday. Photos of the couple's impounded Ford van have also been released by North Port Police in Florida as forensic examinations continue following Petito's death.