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'My only daughter is missing': Father of woman who disappeared in Utah pleads for help

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Posted at 2:35 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 16:46:10-04

VERO BEACH, Fla. — From his Vero Beach, Florida, home, Joseph Petito says he needs help finding his daughter who went missing in Utah during a cross-country trip with her boyfriend.

"Pride isn't an issue right now. My only daughter is missing," he said. "I'm going to do -- the family, Gabby's mom -- we're going to do anything we can to find her."

Joseph Petito speaks about missing daughter
Joseph Petito is pleading for help finding his 22-year-old daughter.

Petito said Gabby Petito, 22, and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, drove from Florida to New York. They left Blue Point, New York, on July 2.

The couple even started a YouTube channel to document their travels.

"The trip started from there, so it went to some various places," Petito said. "Stopped over in Colorado, worked their way up to Utah and were going to Wyoming, and she was going to end in Oregon."

Gabby's mom, Nichole Schmidt, held a news conference Monday. She said the last conversation she had with her daughter was on Aug. 25. Schmidt said the two stayed in contact regularly.

Nichole Schmidt holds photo of missing daughter Gabby Petito
Nichole Schmidt holds a photograph of her missing daughter, Gabby Petito.

"At least three times a week, we would FaceTime, call, and text frequently," she said. "She kept me updated on this trip."

The family said the couple's van had been recovered, but Gabby was missing.

"I believed the first couple of days, when I wasn't getting responses, I believe she was in a place with no service," Schmidt said. "Day eight and nine is when I really became concerned."

Petito said his daughter is a free spirit with a good heart.

"She saw beauty in everything, and ... she's awesome," he said. "She really is an amazing, amazing person."

Petito didn't want to speak about Laundrie. But it's been reported that he's retained a lawyer and isn't speaking with authorities.

Todd Wilson with WPTV first reported this story.