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Family of New York woman missing on road trip says fiancé 'refuses to help' find her

The family of Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, who was on a road trip to Wyoming with fiancé Brian Laundrie, reported her missing over the weekend.
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The family of the New York woman who went missing while on a cross-country road trip said Tuesday that her fiancé, who was on the trip with her, is refusing to say where he last saw her or why he returned from the trip without her.

The family of 22-year-old Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, from the Long Island hamlet of Blue Point, reported her missing over the weekend when she fell out of contact during a road trip to Wyoming. They have now said Brian Laundrie, her fiancé who was traveling with her, won't help find her.

Gabrielle Petito went missing while traveling in Wyoming.
Gabrielle Petito.Suffolk County Police Department

"The Schmidt and Petito family are going through the worst moments of their lives," Richard Stafford, the family's attorney, said in a statement to NBC News. "Their beautiful twenty-two year old daughter is missing and the one person that can help find Gabby refuses to help."

"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," Stafford said.

Laundrie's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the statement from Petito's family. Police have not identified Laundrie as a suspect, nor have they associated him with Petito’s disappearance.

Earlier Tuesday, the fiancé's family released a statement saying this is "understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family."

"It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming," the family said in a statement released by their lawyer, Steven P. Bertolino. "On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is re-united with her family."

They added: "On advice of counsel the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment."

Petito's family attorney responded directly to the statement Tuesday evening.

"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," Stafford said. "How does Brian stay in the background when he is the one person that knows where Gabby is located?"

Petito and Laundrie had been documenting their travels, in a white 2012 Ford Transit van, on YouTube under the monikers Nomadic Statik and Van Life. Petito was last known to be in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in late August.

That Ford van, with Florida plates, and Laundrie eventually got back to the city of North Port, south of Tampa, but without the woman, police said.

"We currently have no definitive information that a crime took place here in North Port," the city's police said in a statement Monday. "With that said, the circumstances are odd. The vehicle she was traveling in was located here in North Port. So, we are actively gathering local details and any evidence to assist in finding needed answers."

Officers retrieved the van Saturday for forensic tests, North Port police spokesman Josh Taylor said. The FBI Tampa Field Office is also actively assisting Suffolk County police in New York with the investigation, North Port police said.

Police know Laundrie is at the family's North Port home, but they hadn't made contact with him by late Tuesday afternoon, officials said. Laundrie's family has asked police to talk to their attorney if they have any questions.

"Brian is refusing to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her," Stafford said. "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."