One of the officials involved in the August 12 emergency call involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie is speaking out. As Mamas Uncut previously reported, Petito and Laundrie were pulled over in Moab, Utah after a 911 caller said he saw a man “slapping” a woman before getting into their white Ford van with Florida license plates.
After being pulled over, the couple called their dispute an “emotion or mental health break” rather than a domestic disturbance. The redacted body cam footage can be watched below:
“I can still hear her voice. She wasn’t just a face on the milk carton, she was real to me,” Melissa Hulls said of Gabby Petito.
Now, Melissa Hulls, a park ranger at Arches National Park in Utah, is opening up about what she said to Gabby Petito that day. As one of the responding officers that day, Hulls said she had the opportunity to speak to Petito while they were pulled over.
Hulls told the Deseret News that she “was probably more candid with her than I should’ve been.” She admitted she even told Gabby Petito that her relationship with Brian Laundrie was “toxic.”
“I was imploring with her to reevaluate 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 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.”
Now, Hulls says she hasn’t looked at her bodycam footage since that day. She admits that given all that has transpired, it’s hard for her not to second guess herself, not to wish she had done more.
“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,” Hulls told the Deseret News. “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.”
Hulls knows the body camera footage will be scrutinized, but she is steadfast in saying she and the other officers did what they thought was the right thing to do at the time. They didn’t believe Petito was in any grave danger at the time.
“I wouldn’t have called (the relationship) unsafe,” Hulls explained. “If we had any reason to think any one of them was in danger, we would’ve separated them.”
“It’s not that we didn’t think he was manipulative, but we have to worry about the safety, and not the psychology of it. We have to go by the facts that we were faced with at the time, and not let our emotions drive the decision.”
It was initially reported that Gabby and Brian were separated following their interaction with the police, but according to Hull, the couple stayed together. “This wasn’t a good day for anybody. We thought we were making the right decision when we left them.”
Thirteen days following Hulls’ interaction with Gabby Petito, Petito made her final phone call to her mother. Seventeen days after that final phone call was made, Petito was officially reported missing on September 11.
Some reports say that Laundrie was pulled over while driving the white Ford van in Florida on September 11 as well. Gabby Petito was allegedly not in the car.
At some point between August 25 and September 11, Laundrie returned back to Florida without his fiancée. And at some point between September 11 and September 19 when Petito’s body was found at the Spread Creek campsites in Wyoming, Laundrie also disappeared.
Police still have not been able to locate him. Following an autopsy, while her specific cause of death has not been revealed, it was confirmed that Gabby Petito did die by homicide.
According to public knowledge, while Brian is believed to be one of the last people to see Petito alive, he remains only a person of interest in this case. He has not been named a suspect.
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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