Utah park ranger warned her relationship with Brian Laundrie seemed ‘toxic’

A National Parks Service law enforcement ranger who responded to a domestic incident between Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito in Utah last month warned the woman that her relationship with Laundrie seemed “toxic.”

“I was probably more candid with her than I should’ve been,” Melissa Hulls, the visitor and resource protection supervisor at Arches National Park, told the Deseret News in an interview about her conversation with Petito on Aug. 12.

By the time Hulls responded that day, Petito, 22, was sobbing in the back of a police cruiser and the ranger approached her knowing the Long Island native may have been more comfortable speaking with a woman during the emotional ordeal.

“I was imploring with her to reevaluate the relationship,” Hull told the newspaper, “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.”

Police responded to the scene after a 911 caller reported seeing a man “slapping” a woman in the face, according to new audio obtained from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

Brian Laundrie speaks with police as they responded to an altercation between him and Gabby Petito.
Moab City Police Department/AFP

The audio contradicts a police report that portrayed Petito as the aggressor, stating at one point she “began slapping” him after he told her to take a walk to calm down.

An officer wrote “it was reported the male had been observed to have assaulted the female,” but later determined that “no one reported that the male struck the female.”

No charges were filed that day and the incident was classified by police as a “mental/emotional health break.”

The couple then reportedly agreed to spend the night separately.

“This wasn’t a good day for anybody. We thought we were making the right decision when we left them,” Hulls said in the interview.

Moab City Police respond to a domestic violence call with Brian Laundrie.
Moab City Police respond to a domestic violence call with Brian Laundrie.
Moab City Police Department/AFP

“I wouldn’t have called (the relationship) unsafe. If we had any reason to think any one of them was in danger, we would’ve separated them,” she said.

Police bodycam footage of the incident has been released by the Moab City Police Department.

Hulls was also wearing a body camera, but said she has not looked over the footage.

“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 said.

Petito was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11 after Laundrie, 23, returned to his Florida home without her 10 days earlier.

The FBI said Sunday that remains “consistent with the description” of Petito had been uncovered in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.