Ms Petito was reported missing by her family on 11 September, with a GoFundMe page set up by a family friend confirming Ms Petito told them in a phone call she had made her way to “Grand Teton, Wyoming, on 25 August [and was] heading towards Yellowstone National Park [next]”.
However, reports suggest 22-year-old Ms Petito, of Long Island, New York, has not actually been seen by anyone since she checked out of a Salt Lake City hotel on 24 August with her partner of more than two years, Brian Laundrie
The couple had been traveling in a Ford Transit van to different national parks over the summer when her family say they lost contact with her.
Speaking about the latest development, Moab’s chief of police Bret Edge told Fox News: “Our officers did respond to an incident involving Brian Laundrie and Gabrielle Petito on 12 August 2021, however neither Brian or Gabrielle were the reporting party.”
He continued: “Officers conducted an investigation and determined that insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.”
It was not immediately clear what the incident involved or why police were called.
The couple documented their cross-country “van life” trip on Instagram and Ms Petito’s YouTube channel. On 12 August, when Moab police say they responded to the report, Ms Petito had posted pictures taken in Arches National Park – just north of the Utah city.
From there, she kept in regular contact with her mother, Nichole Schmidt, until the last week of August.
Ms Schmidt then reported her daughter as missing on 11 September, around two weeks after she says they last spoke on the phone. She claims police initially blew her off but by the next day, she was allowed to file a report with the Suffolk County police department.
The boyfriend, Mr Laundrie, has since returned home to North Port, Florida, in the van he shared with Ms Petitio, hired a lawyer and, according to his girlfriend’s family, has refused to explain where he last saw her.
While he has not been charged with a crime or accused of playing a role in his girlfriend’s disappearance, police in North Port told Fox on Tuesday that they are keen to speak to Mr Laundrie about the case.
“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 reportedly told the broadcaster. “However, there is no crime at this point.”
Police seized the couple’s van on Monday as part of their investigation, which involves law enforcement agencies in multiple states and the FBI, the latter of which began forensically examining the vehicle on Tuesday, North Port police told Fox.
Meanwhile, a search for Ms Petitio remains underway in Wyoming, with Ms Schmidt claiming the family has “begged” Mr Laundrie to cooperate.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, she said she could not understand “why neither Brian nor his parents have reached out” to her in the aftermath of her daughter’s disappearance.
“It’s a very mysterious situation. We don’t understand why he’s doing this,” Ms Schmidt told the paper. “Everybody’s assuming the worst and thinking he’s guilty of this. But I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe she’s just in need of help out there and that everybody needs to keep searching.”
She added: “If they cared about her, they would want to find her.”