A woman who took a trip across the country in a van with her boyfriend is missing after her parents told police they haven’t heard from her for two weeks.
Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, 22, last spoke to her family in the last week of August and is believed to be in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, police said. Her family reported her missing to the Suffolk County Police Department in New York on Saturday after they had not heard from her since.
“I just think she’s in danger because she’s not in contact with us, and she might be alone somewhere, she might be stranded somewhere in the wild, and she needs help,” Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, said at a press conference on Monday.
Josh Taylor, a spokesperson for the North Port Florida Police Department, said on Saturday night that USA TODAY officers picked up the van in North Point, Florida, home of Petito’s boyfriend. The city is approximately 35 miles south of Sarasota.
Officers spoke briefly with Petito’s boyfriend’s family, but not with him, while they were at the house, Taylor said.
Family members referred officers to Steven Bertolino, an attorney for Petito’s boyfriend, Taylor said. A person who answered the phone at Bertolino’s law firm in Long Island, New York, declined to comment when contacted by USA TODAY.
Police have not publicly identified Petito’s boyfriend and he has not spoken publicly about the case.
The van is currently in the custody of North Port Police and “will be treated accordingly” for any evidence, Taylor said. Police are investigating and have warned that it is still not clear whether a crime has taken place.
“We hope she’s alive,” Taylor said.
The National Park Service “is coordinating with several law enforcement agencies in connection with the investigation into” Petito’s plight, a spokesperson confirmed to USA TODAY.
The Suffolk County Police Department declined to comment further on the case when reached Tuesday morning by USA TODAY.
In a Facebook post, the North Port Police Department said “the circumstances are strange” even though there was no “definitive information” on a crime in North Port.
He added: “We are actively pulling together local details and any evidence to help find the answers needed.”
Petito and her boyfriend set off from New York City – where Petito was visiting for his brother’s graduation ceremony, according to Newsday – on July 2 to begin their trip across the country, Schmidt said.
Schmidt said she had a FaceTime call with her daughter about three weeks ago and last received texts from her phone on August 30.
The couple were traveling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van, police said. Petito’s mother said her daughter kept in regular contact during their trip. Photos on social media chronicle Petito’s trip, and she shared a YouTube video about the trip in mid-August.
When Schmidt hadn’t heard from her daughter for a few days, she thought she might be in a place with no service, she said. After a little over a week, she became worried, she added.
“I believe a mother’s instinct is the most powerful,” Schmidt said.
According to police, Petito is white, is around 5 feet, 5 inches tall, and weighs 110 pounds. She also has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that says “let it be”. Anyone with information on his whereabouts has been urged to call 1-800-220-TIPS.
Meanwhile, in California, a Yosemite hiker is also missing. Joel Thomazin, 31, was doing a Hetch Hetchy solo hike to Lake Eleanor but didn’t return as planned on Thursday. He is white, 5 feet, 10 inches, and has brown, buzzing hair, Yosemite National Park officials said on Saturday.