ST. GEORGE — The recent disappearance of a Florida woman during a cross-country road trip is being investigated for any connection to the double-murder of two women while camping near Moab last month, law authorities announced Thursday.
Update Sept. 17, 4 p.m.: The Grand County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that investigators had found no connection between the deaths of Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner and the missing person case surrounding Gabrielle Petito.
Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, 22, and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, 23, were on a road trip in their converted camper van when they were pulled over by Moab Police officers on Aug. 12. Two weeks later she was reported missing by her family. She has since become the subject of a nationwide searched joined by the FBI.
Petito’s last contact with her family before she disappeared was in Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming in late August.
Prior to Petito’s disappearance, a witness called the Moab Police Department on Aug. 12 after seeing what they believed to be a domestic violence incident between the Laundrie and Petito. When police officers pulled them over near the entrance to Arches National Park, they recorded their interactions with the two via their camera cameras. This video has since been shared with Florida authorities.
“We’ve just been fighting this morning. Some personal issues,” Petito told a responding officer, adding that she suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder that affects her behavior.
Laundrie says on the video the couple got into a minor scuffle that began when he climbed into the van with dirty feet, adding that he didn’t want to pursue a domestic violence charge against Petito, who officers decided was the aggressor.
Ultimately Moab Police decided not file any charges and instead separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking into a motel and Petito remaining with the van.
Petito and 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 soon after her last contact with her family in late August.
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. Laundrie is seen as a person of interest by police.
Petito is white, 5-foot-5 and about 110 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes, police said. She has several tattoos including one on a forearm that reads, “let it be.”
Officials are urging anyone with information regarding the case to contact 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Six days after Laundrie and Petito were pulled over, the bodies of Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, were found dead in a campsite near Moab. Both had been shot to death.
“The Grand County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate any information received concerning the double homicide,” the Grand County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release issued Thursday. “The Sheriff’s Office is not ruling anything out at this time and appreciate the concerns of the public and their willingness to contact this office with those concerns and information.”
However, the Sheriff’s Office announced the next day it had not found any links between Petito’s disappearance and the double murder.
Schulte and Turner were a newly wed couple who had told their friends they had encountered a “creepy man” near their campsite and felt intimidated by him.
The two women were last seen Aug. 13, leaving a bar in Moab, where they lived and worked. Officers discovered Schulte and Turner partially undressed with multiple gunshot wounds all over their bodies at their campsite.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 435-259-8115.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Ed. note: This post was updated with the Grand County Sheriff’s announcement of there being no connections between the two cases detailed in the article.
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