Ranger Recalls 'Imploring' With Petito to Rethink Relationship With Laundrie

A park ranger recalls "imploring" with Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, whose body was discovered on Sunday after she was declared missing on September 11, to rethink her relationship with her fiancé Brian Laundrie when she spoke with her on the couple's road trip around the U.S.

Melissa Hulls, the visitor and resource protection supervisor at Arches National Park, in eastern Utah, on August 12 responded to a radio call of possible domestic assault involving Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23. Hulls arrived to find the couple pulled over by a Moab police officer inside the park and spoke with Petito, who was sitting in the back of a police cruiser sobbing.

"I was probably more candid with her than I should've been," Hulls said in an interview with Deseret News. She warned Petito that her and Laundrie's relationship had the markings of a "toxic" one.

"I was imploring with her to re-evaluate the relationship, asking her if she was happy in the relationship with him, and basically saying this was an opportunity for her to find another path, to make a change in her life," she said.

"She had a lot of anxiety about being away from him, I honestly thought if anything was going to change it would be after they got home to Florida."

Petito stayed with Laundrie in the end.

"This wasn't a good day for anybody. We thought we were making the right decision when we left them," said Hulls.

Petito was first reported missing on September 11, more than two months after leaving for a cross-country road trip and 10 days after Laundrie returned home without her.

On September 19, investigators said they discovered a body that had an appearance "consistent" with the description of Petito on the outskirts of the Grand Teto National Park in Wyoming. The FBI confirmed the body of Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito was found on Sunday by law enforcement agents but the cause of death has not yet been determined, with an autopsy set for Tuesday.

Laundrie, who is officially named as a person of interest in the case, is refusing to talk to police and has not been seen since September 14, when he was with family members in Florida. Dozens of officers are taking part in an intense search for him at the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in the state.

Hull's body cam footage of a sobbing Petito has been watched millions of times online, as the footage reveals the abusive side of the relationship.

Speaking about the footage, Hull said: "I honestly haven't looked at my body camera footage for that night. It's hard to think about now because I feel like I could've said more to help her.

"It's hard not to second-guess myself, and wish I said more, or wish I had found the right words to make her believe that she deserved more."

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito
Police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021. Petito's body was discovered on Sunday on the outskirts of the Grand Teto National Park in Wyoming. Moab Police Department via AP