Utah sheriff ‘actively' investigating possible connection between Petito disappearance and double homicide

Gabby Petito’s family, police seeking answers from boyfriend named ‘person of interest’

Carley Shimkus reports from Brian Laundrie’s family home in North Port, Fla.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that it is “actively looking into any connection” between a double homicide of newlyweds at a campground outside Moab last month and the recent disappearance of Gabby Petito. 

“The Sheriff’s Office is not ruling anything out at this time and appreciate the concerns of the public and their willingness to contact this office with those concerns and information,” the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. 

The newlyweds, 38-year-old Crystal Turner and 24-year-old Kylen Schulte, were found shot to death at a campground southeast of Moab on Aug. 18, five days after they were last seen leaving a downtown bar. 

Bridget Calvert, Schulte’s aunt, told KUTV that the couple complained about a “creepy guy” who was making them uncomfortable in their campsite just days before the double homicide. 

Grand County Sheriff Steven White said investigators think an “outside party” shot the women then fled the area. 

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office said they are investigating any possible connection between the double homicide of Crystal Turner and Kylen Schulte (right) in mid-August, and the disappearance of Gabby Petito in late August. 

Schulte worked at Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, which is the same location that Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, got into a fight on Aug. 12, according to a police report obtained by Fox News.

A witness called 911 to report a “possible domestic violence” incident between the couple on a street near the store. 

“The driver of the van, a male, had some sort of argument with the female, Gabbie,” a responding officer wrote in the report after interviewing Petito, Laundrie, and the witness. 

“The male tried to create distance by telling Gabbie to go take a walk to calm down, she didn’t want to be separated from the male, and began slapping him,” the report said. “He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van, he tried to lock her out and succeeded except for his driver’s door, she opened that and forced her way over him and into the vehicle before it drove off.”

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    22-year-old Gabby Petito from New York’s Long Island was reported missing on Saturday by her family after her fiancé returned home alone from a cross-country road trip the two had embarked on in early July. Police and Petito’s family say the fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is refusing to speak to law enforcement (Steve Petito )

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    Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie began a cross-country road trip in early July, but Petito has been missing since late August.  (Joey Petito)

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    Some of Gabby Petito’s family members give an update on the disappearance of the 22-year-old.  (Maciel/Backgrid)

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    The white converted camper van that Petito and Laundrie were traveling in.  (North Port Police Dept)

No charges were filed and no significant injuries were reported by police. 

“It appeared that this incident was more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault,” an officer wrote in the report. 

The President of the Board of the Moonflower co-op told Fox News that no one from the store witnessed the altercation between Petito and Laundrie on Aug. 12. 

Brian Laundrie’s lawyer, Steven Bertolino, said in a statement Thursday night that any connection between the two cases will be determined at a later date.

“Law Enforcement has to follow protocol and all leads that they get,” Bertolino said, according to WBBH. “Whether or not these two cases deserve to be linked will be determined at some point in the future.”

The couple left a hotel in Salt Lake City, about 230 miles northwest of Moab, on Aug. 24 and were heading to Grand Teton National Park then eventually Yellowstone, according to Petito’s family. 

The last verbal conversation Petito’s mom, Nichole Schmidt, had with her daughter was on Aug. 25, when the couple was apparently in Grand Teton. 

Laundrie returned home to North Port, where the couple’s trip began, on Sept. 1 with Petito’s white van, but without Petito. 

Schmidt received a text from Petito’s phone on Aug. 27 and another one on Aug. 30, but she does not think these texts were from her daughter. 

“I believe that text was not from my daughter. Now that we know the van was in Florida on the 1st, there is no way that text was from my daughter,” Schmidt told Fox News. 

Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 and the van was recovered from the home of Laundrie’s parents on that same night. 

The North Port Police Department named Laundrie, who has retained a lawyer and is not cooperating with the investigation, as a person of interest in the case on Wednesday.

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