Search warrant cited growing ‘tension’ between Petito, Laundrie

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Search warrant cited growing ‘tension’ between Petito, Laundrie

Search-warrant documents involving a hard drive found in Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie’s van noted that there had been “more and more tension” between the couple before her disappearance.

An affidavit from cops seeking a warrant for the computer storage device sheds new light on what led up to Petito’s family fearing for her safety.

The affidavit notes that Laundrie refused to speak to police investigators after Petito’s family reported her missing Sept. 11. The North Port, Fla., cops said they believed that the hard drive could belong to Petito, 22, and might help them find out where she was.

A judge OK’d the search warrant last week, days before Petito’s likely remains were found in Wyoming.

Detective Daniel Alix wrote in the probable-cause affidavit seeking the warrant that Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, had been in regular contact with her daughter after Gabby and Laundrie left New York on their cross-country road trip.

But “during these conversations there appeared to be more and more tension between [Gabby] and Laundrie,” the affidavit states.

There were concerns about Petito’s mental health after a domestic incident between the couple Aug. 12 that involved Moab, Utah, police, the document shows. Petito told cops she had experienced “increased anxiety” during their trip, the affidavit said.

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito outside of the van that they were traveling the country in.
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito outside of the van that they were traveling the country in.
Instagram

Then Petito’s suspicious supposed final text to her mother arrived Aug. 27, according to the affidavit. That August date was about two days after her family last talked to her.

“Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls,” read Gabby’s purported text to her mom.

The reference was to Gabby’s grandfather – but her mother said her daughter never called him “Stan.”

“The mother was concerned that something was wrong with her daughter,” the affidavit said.

“[Gabby’s] cellphone was no longer operational, and she stopped posting anything on social media about their trip,” the affidavit added. “Per her family, this was not normal behavior for the subject, and they became more worried about her.”

The FBI raiding Brian Laundrie's home on September 20, 2021.
The FBI raiding Brian Laundrie’s home on September 20, 2021.
Dennis A. Clark

The probable-cause statement noted that a license-plate reader showed the van arrived back at Laundrie’s parents’ home in Florida on Sept. 1. Laundrie arrived at the house sans Petito. On Sept. 11, when Petito’s family reported her missing, police visited Laundrie’s home and were told by the boyfriend’s family that Petito wasn’t there and they didn’t know where she was.

“They refused to allow Brian to speak with law enforcement and directed the officers on the scene to speak with their attorney,” the affidavit said.

Meanwhile, Laundrie, 23, hasn’t been seen since last week, when he supposedly went for a hike in the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve.

On Monday, FBI agents and local police raided the Laundries’ home with a search warrant.

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