TAMPA (WFLA) – A month before Gabby Petito was officially reported missing, Utah police say they were called to investigate an incident involving the 22-year-old North Port woman and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, according to a report from the Moab Police Department.
According to the incident report obtained by WFLA, Moab police officers were called to a co-op for the report of a “domestic problem” on Aug. 12 after a witness saw the couple get into an argument. Police say they spoke with Petito and Laundrie, who told officers Laundrie had tried to “create distance” after the argument by telling Petito to go take a walk and calm down.
Police say Petito did not want to be separated from Laundrie and started slapping him, which led to Laundrie grabbing her face, pushing her back and locking her out of the car.
The incident report says, “no one reported that the male struck the female, both the male and the female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.” However, the police report, based on the couple’s testimonies, says they hit each other during the incident.
According to a separate report on the incident from a different officer on scene, Laundrie told the officer the two had been traveling together for four or five months and “that time created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments.”
The report adds that Petito was visibly upset and told the officer she had been struggling with her mental health due to ongoing arguments with Laundrie, as well as suffering from a condition that was redacted by police in the report. Laundrie also told police he suffered from the same mental health condition as Petito, though he said that her condition was “more advanced” than his own.
The officer wrote in his report that after evaluating the circumstances, he “did not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis.” The officer helped separate the couple for the evening, with Petito keeping the van and Laundrie taken to get a hotel room for the night, according to the report.
Petito made two Instagram posts on Aug. 12, the day of the reported incident, showing the couple in Arches National Park in Utah’s Grand County. The pictures include one of the couple kissing under Delicate Arch, a rock formation. Petito did not post on Instagram again until Aug. 19, a week after they were pulled over by police in the area near Arches National Park.
The 22-year-old was officially reported missing on Sept. 11 after Laundrie returned to North Port alone with the van the couple had been traveling in. Laundrie retained a lawyer and has been accused by Petito’s family of refusing to provide information to help in the search.
Laundrie was named a person of interest in the case on Wednesday morning.