Authorities rule out link between Gabby Petito case, couple killed in Moab

Petito and her fiance were in Moab before slain couple Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner were last seen.

(North Port Police Department) Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito. Petito, 22, vanished while on a cross-country trip in a converted camper van with her boyfriend. Investigators say she last contacted her family in late August 2021 when the couple was visiting Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Much of their trip was documented on social media accounts that abruptly ceased.

Investigators have determined that the disappearance of Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito is not related to a double homicide in Moab last month that left a couple dead, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday.

Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, were found shot to death in a creek near their Moab-area campsite on Aug. 18, police have said. The couple were last seen Aug. 13 at Woody’s Tavern in town. They were reported missing Aug. 16.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A poster on a tree near the Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, where Kylen Schulte used to work, on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.

Petito and her fiance lived in North Port, Florida, before embarking on a monthslong road trip this year. Petito was reported missing Sept. 11. She had visited the Moab area with her fiance in mid-August, last contacted her family around the end of August and was last seen at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming after checking out of a Salt Lake City hotel on Aug. 24.

Her fiance, Brian Laundrie, returned to Florida alone on Sept. 1 and is considered a person of interest in her disappearance, North Port police said this week.

There was no evidence as of Thursday that the cases were connected. But North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said during a news conference that day that investigators there had “communication going back and forth with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.”

“We provided them with whatever information we could,” Garrison said at the time. “They don’t have any [murder] suspect information right now. … They told us that they’re looking at everything at this point.”

The timing of the cases apparently prompted speculation about a possible connection, which has since been ruled out.

Petito and her fiance were in Moab around the time of Aug. 12, the same day Petito posted images to Instagram of herself in Arches National Park. Moab police also responded to a “domestic problem” that day involving the couple that was later categorized as a disorderly conduct incident, records show.

No one was charged in relation to the incident, which was reported outside of Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, where Schulte worked. But an officer separated the couple for the night, driving Laundrie to a hotel and leaving Petito with the couple’s camper van so they could “relax their emotions,” records state. Body camera footage released Thursday captured the police response to the incident.

The following day marked when Schulte and Turner were last seen alive. Schulte had complained to friends about a “creepy man” near their campsite, according to court filings. They told their friends “if something happened to them, that they were murdered,” records show.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the double homicide. Two business contractors in Moab have offered $10,000 rewards for information related to the case. Anyone with information may call investigators at 435-259-8115.

North Port police continue to investigate Petito’s disappearance in conjunction with the FBI.