- Click here for an updated story: Boyfriend Of Missing NY 22-Year-Old Woman Now 'Person Of Interest,' Police Say
As police in several states continue the search for a missing New York woman, her boyfriend has broken his silence through an attorney for the first time.
Gabrielle Petito, age 22, of Blue Point in Suffolk County, and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who both attended Bayport-Blue Point High School, left Long Island in early July for a cross-country trip in her 2012 Ford Transit van.
Petito, who was last known to be in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in late August, was reported missing to Suffolk County Police on Saturday, Sept. 11, by her mother after last being heard from on Monday, Aug. 30.
Since her disappearance, Laundrie, who returned to his North Port, Florida home in her van, has refused to speak with police and the FBI and has not spoken to Petitos' family.
North Port Police seized Petito's van Monday, Sept. 13, as part of their investigation.
The North Port PD is now the lead agency in the case, Suffolk County Police announced on Wednesday, Sept. 15.
Suffolk County Police will continue to assist in the investigation.
On Tuesday, Sept. 14, more than two weeks after her disappearance, Laundrie made a statement through his East Islip attorney Steve Bertolino.
"This is an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family," the statement said. "I understand that a search has been organized for Miss Petito 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. On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment."
In return, Petito's family, who have frantically begged Laundrie to explain why he returned home in Petito's van to their home in Florida without her, released the following statement:
"The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives. Their beautiful twenty-two-year-old daughter is missing and the one person that can help find Gabby refuses to help," the statement said.
"Brian Laundrie was traveling with Gabby in the Grand Teton - Yellowstone area. They were traveling together in Gabby's 2012 Ford Transit van.
"That is where we believe Gabby was last seen. Brian is refusing to tell Gabby's family where he last saw her. Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida. These are critical questions that require immediate answers.
"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?
"The Schmidt and Petito family implore Brian to come forward and at least tell us if we are looking in the right area."
Police in Moab, Utah said they were called to an "incident" involving the two on Thursday, Aug. 12.
Moab Chief of Police Bret Edge said officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges, told Fox News.
The nature of the incident was unclear.
To date, Laundrie has not been charged with a crime or accused of playing a role in Petito’s disappearance, but police in North Port say they want to talk with him regarding Petito's disappearance.
"I think anyone would assume that the possible last person to be around her is a person of interest to want to talk with," a spokesman told Fox News. "However, there is no crime at this point."
All tips with information on Petito’s disappearance can be reported to 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
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