SUFFOLK COUNTY — Distraught parents pleaded for help Monday finding their daughter, who went missing while on a road trip with her boyfriend.
Gabrielle Petito sent updates to her family several times a week after the trip started on July 2. Mom Nichole Schmidt last heard from Petito, 22, on Aug. 30. At first, she assumed her daughter was somewhere without service; Petito and her boyfriend, who she’d been dating for more than two years, were spending a lot of the trip camping.
“She was having a great time. She said she was heading up to Wyoming,” Schmidt said about her last conversation with her daughter.
Then a number of days passed.
“I believed she was in a place with no service,” Schmidt said. “It was day eight, nine that I really became concerned and I figured she couldn’t be off the grid for that long.”
Now she’s asking anyone who might have seen her daughter to come forward.
“She could be alone somewhere,” Schmidt said. “She could be stranded somewhere in the wilderness and she needs help.”
Her parents described her as artistic, creative, loving, caring, and free-spirited.
“She was just the type of person that was free,” Schmidt said. “She went and did where the day took her.”
Petito has five siblings, Schmidt said. While the younger ones don’t quite understand what’s going on, it’s been difficult for her older siblings.
“It’s scary and it’s nerve-wracking. We don’t eat, we don’t sleep,” Schmidt said. “We’re just actively looking for her.”
Petito was last seen traveling in a white, 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida license plate QFTG03. The van has been recovered. Petito is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads “let it be.”
“We love her very much,” Schmidt said. “We miss her and we want her to come home.”
Detectives are asking anyone with information on Petito’s disappearance to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls can remain anonymous.