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Gabby Petito Search: Parents Say Fiancé Brian Laundrie's 'Silence Is Reprehensible'; Police In Utah Confirm Responding To Incident Involving Couple

BLUE POINT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There are new developments in the search for missing Long Island native Gabby Petito.

Her parents have issued another urgent plea calling on her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, to speak with investigators about her disappearance, including where he last saw her.

Petito, 22, disappeared while on a cross country van trip with Laundrie.

Laundrie returned to their home in Florida with Petito's van, but without her.

Wednesday, police in Moab, Utah confirmed that their officers responded to an incident involving the two on August 12.

Missing person Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito (Photo: Instagram/GabsPetito)

According to a police report, officers responded to a reported domestic assault but concluded there were no significant injuries reported and it "was more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health 'break' than a domestic assault."

Police say Petito was "crying uncontrollably." Laundrie told police they got in an argument, Petito thought he was going to leave her without a ride and went to slap him.

The report says, "Brian explained he and Gabrielle have been traveling together for the last four or five months. That time spent created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments. After arguing -- 'Gabrielle had gone into a manic state.'"

Laundrie allegedly told police he and Petito both suffered from a mental condition and that neither take medication.

According to the report, police determined the altercation did not rise to the level of domestic assault, and Laundrie and Petito were told to separate for the night. Laundrie was given a hotel room.

Petito and Laundrie also told police they were engaged.

Watch Carolyn Gusoff's report --

Petito's family issued a new statement Wednesday, calling on Laundrie to speak out about what he knows about her disappearance:

Every day the search for Gabby continues the Schmidt and Petito family becomes more desperate. They are frantically searching for answers and information in their daughter's disappearance while Brian sits in the comfort of his home.

Brian claims he wants to sit in the background while we search for Gabby in the wilderness of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.

Brian left Gabby in the wilderness with grizzly bears and wolves while he sits in the comfort of his home.  In his home!

Brian, how could you do this to Gabby?  You selfishly remain silent while Gabby is all alone in the wilderness.

Brian, your silence is reprehensible!  We beg you to do the right thing and help us bring Gabby home.

Brian, whatever happened in Wyoming, happened.  The only thing you can control is what you do now.  Tell us where Gabby is.

You tarnish you love for her with your silence.

Police in North Port, Florida, say they are now the lead investigators in the case, and are working with the FBI and Suffolk County police. They are calling Laundrie a person of interest, which would be the case for anyone who was the last known contact of a missing person.

Police say Laundrie returned to North Port on Sept. 1, 10 days before Petito's family reported her missing. They say the van they used for the trip was found at Laundrie's home, which he shares with his parents, on Sept. 11.

"As a father, I can imaging the pain and suffering Gabby's family is going through. We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks. The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out. We will help find Gabby and we will help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance," said North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison.

Police have only been given the name of Laundrie's attorney to ask their questions through. That attorney, Steven Bertolino, is located on Long Island. He would not respond to questions about Gabby Petito's whereabouts and released the following statement:

"Many people are wondering why Mr. Laundrie would not make a statement or speak with law enforcement in the face of Ms. Petito's absence. In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this and the warning that 'any statement made will be used against you' is true, regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito's disappearance. As such, on the advice of counsel Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter.

I have been informed that the North Port, Florida police have named Brian Laundrie as a 'person of interest' in this matter. This formality has not really changed the circumstances of Mr. Laundrie being the focus and attention of law enforcement and Mr. Laundrie will continue to remain silent on the advice of counsel."

"It's a very difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family. On behalf of the Laundrie family, I hope that Miss Petito is located and that she's reunited with her family," Bertolino told CBS2.

The North Port Police chief took the plea to Twitter, begging Bertolino to "arrange a conversation."

The search for Petito is a multi-state effort -- from Suffolk County, where she departed, to Florida, where she lives, and Wyoming, where she was last heard from while hiking in Grand Teton National Park.

"I probably haven't slept since Friday, haven't eaten since Saturday," her father Joseph Petito said.

He said he's praying she will be found alive and well.

"If you're hiking a trail and stuff like that and you see her, you can turn around 'That's Gabby ... Gabby, here is my phone. You need to call your folks right now,'" he said.

Gabby Petito was documenting what appeared to be a happy adventure with Laundrie on YouTube and on social media.

"Did he harm Gabby? Because if he did, then he stole her car and drove it across state lines," Joseph Petito said.

He is pleading with Laundrie to speak out.

"If nothing happened and he's not guilty of anything and you're trying to help, you're going about it the wrong way," he said. "Get outside to the front lawn and start talking to people. Tell them where you last saw her. Tell them what last happened. Tell them the truth."

Police in Florida are making the same plea.

"He needs to talk to us. We need to know exactly where he was, where she was, their last locations," North Port, Florida, Police public information officer Josh Taylor said. "If she's out there, we're doing everything in our power to bring her home."

Laundrie's attorney says he is the one advising the young man to remain silent.

'On advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background," Bertolino said.

"That is not good enough. We need the details," Taylor said.

A National Parks Service spokesman said, "We are coordinating with multiple law enforcement agencies as part of the investigation into Gabrielle Petito's whereabouts. As the investigation is ongoing, we do not have any further information to provide at this time."

Police say they are using every technological resource to scour cell records, app usage, videos, tolls and more.

All tips with information on Petito's disappearance can be reported to 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).

CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story first appeared on September 15, 2021.

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