SALT LAKE CITY — Officials are looking for a missing 22-year-old woman who was last seen traveling through Utah and Wyoming with her boyfriend.
Nichole Schmidt said her daughter, 22-year-old Gabby Petito, left Blue Point, New York, on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend of two years on July 2.
"She wanted to cross the country in the camper van and live the van life and live free. This was her dream," Schmidt said.
Petito's parents said the couple documented every step of the way, spending time in Colorado and southern Utah.
"If you look at her Instagram page, you can actually find a lot of evidence of where they were these past few months," said Schmidt.
But toward the end of August, the posts started slowing down.
Petito's father, who lives in Florida, said the couple was in Salt Lake City on Aug. 21. He knows because he placed an Uber Eats order for them.
"There was a power outage. She said she didn't have WiFi, so I ordered her some food," Joseph Petito said. "I know it was in Salt Lake City. It was the last time I spoke to her."
He said the couple didn't have friends in Salt Lake City but wanted to spend time in the area.
#BREAKING: @SCPDHq Police in New York looking for missing 22 yo #GabbyPetito. Family says she disappeared while travelling through Utah & Wyoming. Family believes she was last seen at @GrandTetonNPS. Anyone with info call 1-800-220-TIPS. Full update @KSL5TV at 10. pic.twitter.com/kTQfHNUx0z— Garna Mejia KSL (@GarnaMejiaKSL) September 13, 2021
Gabby Petito's parents said the couple left Salt Lake City for Grand Teton National Park around Aug. 24, where they believe the couple spent no more than two days.
This was also around the last time Petito spoke with her mother over FaceTime.
"She seemed OK to me at the time, other than I don't know where the relationship was going with the boyfriend," said Schmidt of the couple possibly going through a rough patch.
Then the details get hazy as Petito's parents say they're not sure if she made it to her next destination.
"She was making her way up to Yellowstone," Schmidt said explaining that after Aug. 24 her communication with Petito grew sporadic and happened only via text.
"The last text I got from her was on Aug. 30. I don't know if that was her texting me or not," Schmidt said.
She seemed OK to me at the time, other than I don't know where the relationship was going with the boyfriend.
Then Petito stopped responding all together. Schmidt said she initially figured the couple had lost internet reception but late last week, her mother knew something was off.
Petito's parents said they started reaching out to their local law enforcement agencies in Florida and New York. On Saturday evening, Schmidt said a detective at the Suffolk County Police Department agreed to file a case.
In an email, the Suffolk County Police Department confirmed the van was located but did not specify where. In a press release, the van was described as a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03.
They also declined to provide information on Petito's boyfriend or his current whereabouts.
A department spokesperson also said the department does not comment on suspects or persons of interest adding, "We are not commenting on who has been spoken to in relation to this investigation."
Anyone with information is asked to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS, or they can submit an online tip through P3tips.com.
Petito was described as approximately 5-foot-5, weighing 110 pounds. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads, "let it be."
Timeline of events
- July 2: Gabby Petito leaves New York with her boyfriend of two years heading west. They spend time in Colorado and Southern Utah.
- Aug. 12 – 24: Petito and her boyfriend are in Utah.
- Aug. 21: Petito's father, Joseph Petito, orders Uber Eats for Gabby Petito. Meal is delivered to Salt Lake City. This is the last time Petito speaks with her father.
- Aug. 24: Couple leaves SLC headed for Grand Teton National Park. Mother Nichole Schmidt said they spent one or two days in Wyoming.
- Aug. 23 or 24: Petito's last FaceTime call with her mother. After this point, Schmidt says they "texted a lot."
- Aug. 25: Schmidt says the couple's van is spotted at Grand Teton National Park.
- Aug. 25: Last post on Petito's Instagram @Gabspetito.
- Aug. 25-27: Schmidt says she doesn't know where Petito is. It is assumed the couple leaves Wyoming headed for Yellowstone National Park, but it is unclear if they made it.
- Aug. 27: Petito's parents say her social media goes completely silent.
- Aug. 30: Schmidt gets a text from Petito's number. She is not sure if it is coming from Petito. After this point, Schmidt says Petito stops replying to her text messages.
- Sept. 11: Suffolk County Police Department officially opens an investigation.