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Police name boyfriend as person of interest in disappearance of Gabby Petito

Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Police on Wednesday named the boyfriend of a missing Florida woman as a person of interest in her disappearance.

The North Port Police Department said Brian Laundrie, returned to North Port on Sept. 1, which was 10 days before Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito was reported missing by her family.

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Police said Laundrie "has not made himself available to be interviewed or has provided any helpful details."

"We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks," North Port police Chief Todd Garrison said. "The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance."

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Petitio, 22, and Laundrie, 23, traveled from Florida to New York before they were set to visit national parks out west in July, but Petito's family said they last heard from her on Aug. 25 when she was believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. She had also consistently documented the trip on social media, including her YouTube channel "NomadicStatik" but her last Instagram post was also on Aug. 25.

On Wednesday, police said Petito's van, which the couple had been traveling in, was recovered at a home she shared with Laundrie and his parents on Sept. 11 and was "fully processed for evidence along with FBI agents Tuesday evening."

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North Port police Communications Manager Josh Taylor said "some materials" of possible interest were discovered after processing the van but no other details were released.

Petito is described as a white female, approximately 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 110 pounds, with blonde hair, blue eyes and several tattoos including one on her finger and another on her forearm that reads "Let it be."

Steve Bertolino, Laundrie's attorney, released a statement on Wednesday saying it has been "understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petitio family and the Laundrie family."

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"It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petitio in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family," Bertolino said. "On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment."

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Petito's family also released a statement calling on the Laundrie family to assist in the investigation.

"The Schmidt and Petito family beg the Laundrie family to not 'remain in the background' but to help find who Brian referred to as the love of his life. How does Brian stay in the background when he is the one person that knows where Gabby is located?"

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