The boyfriend of missing Long Island woman Gabby Petito has been identified as a person of interest in her mysterious disappearance, police said Wednesday.
Brian Laundrie, who returned home to North Port, Fla., on his own after the couple went on a cross-country trip, has lawyered up and refused to cooperate with police.
Petito, 22, has been missing since late last month.
“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said in a statement.
“We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past weeks,” Garrison said. “The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation.
“We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance,” the chief said.
North Port Police also said that authorities have received “hundreds of tips which are being vetted through multiple agencies” and asked anyone who may have seen the white 2012 Ford Transit van Petito and Laundrie were traveling in to call them.
Laundrie broke his silence Tuesday, saying through his Long Island-based attorney Steven Bertolino that he and his family would be “remaining in the background.”
At a press conference Wednesday, North Police police spokesman Josh Taylor took issue with that statement.
“They put out a release yesterday saying they remain in the background,” Taylor told reporters. “That’s not good enough. We need the details.”
Asked why Laundrie was identified as a person of interest, Taylor added that, “I think most people would come to that conclusion in this case.
“He was the last person that we have information was around her,” he said. “How you define person of interest is up to you, but certainly we are interested in talking to him.
“If she’s out there we’re doing everything in our power to bring her home,” he said.
The North Port department is the lead agency in the investigation, and the FBI and Suffolk County police are also involved.