A U.S. park ranger reportedly urged Petito to rethink her relationship with Laundrie just weeks before her remains were discovered near Grand Teton National Park.
Hulls’ Encounter With Petito
Melissa Hulls, a resource protection supervisor at Arches National Park in Utah, was among the law enforcers who had responded to a 911 call that involved the 22-year-old Long Island native and her 23-year-old boyfriend. That day, the couple was traveling through Moab during a cross-country road trip.
Fox News obtained footage from one of the male officers interviewing the YouTuber — who appeared to be crying. The pair were asked to explain their fight separately, but they seemingly downplayed the incident. Hence, officers filed no charges, but they separated the couple, asking them to spend the night apart with Petito keeping the van and Laundrie sent to a hotel.
According to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, Hulls asked Petito for a private conversation, as she believed that the young woman would be more open to a one-on-one talk with a female officer alone.
“I was probably more candid with her than I should’ve been,” Hulls recalled. “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 said of Petito, who was residing with Laundrie and his family in Florida before their escapade.
“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,” the officer added.
Before Her Death
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In a report by Fox News, Petito and Laundrie were pulled over by Moab police. They were on the road leading into Arches National Park that afternoon in response to a 911 caller who said he witnessed a male “slapping” a female.
The video from one of the responding officers suggested that Laundrie was driving 45 mph in a 15 mph zone before slamming into the curb after the police lights went on.
There were other law enforcement agents present during the short interrogation, which included Hulls. The bodycam showed an agitated Petito, who was also in tears the entire time. Meanwhile, Laundrie appeared calm and collected.
The former was reported missing on September 11, exactly ten days after Laundrie returned to his home in Florida in the white Ford Transit van he had traveled with Petito. It was also revealed that Petito’s relatives last heard from her on August 25, when she was near Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming.
On September 19, the FBI shared some chilling news about human remains found in Grand Teton National Park that was “consistent with the description” of Petito.
Law enforcement officials and the Petito family’s attorney, Richard Stafford, confirmed on Tuesday that the remains belonged to Petito. FBI ruled her death a homicide.
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“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 said after finding out about the news of Petito’s body. “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.”