Gabby Petito and Steven Evans, friends of Nikki Passannante. Courtesy Nikki Passannante
Petito's long-time friend said that Petito wouldn't have fled on her own.
Nikki Passannante stated, "I don’t believe anything’s happening is due to her doing.”
Petito vanished in August on a roadtrip with her boyfriend. She returned home without her.
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A longtime friend of Gabby Petito said that she wouldn't have fled on her own.
"She wouldn't ever go missing like this without her family knowing where she is," said Nikki Passannante, a 23-year-old server living in Long Island. This is completely out of character and I don’t believe anything is her fault." Nikki Passannante (23-year-old server from Long Island) said that she believes the incident is not her fault. She grew up just 15 minutes from Petito.
She added, "I believe that something more devilish has been going on."
Passannante stated that Petito had spoken with her mother at least once per day since July when she moved out of the country. She would text her mother instead if she couldn't get service. Passannante stated that Petito didn't answer for several days and her parents tried to contact her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. Passannante stated that Laundrie didn't return their calls at that point. Petito's parents began to worry.
Passannante stated that she has always been "very up and out." "She moved to Florida together with her boyfriend. These road trips are a regular part of their lives.
Passannante stated that Petito and Laundrie were so successful because they shared similar goals, including traveling and living nomadic lives.
Petito with friends. Courtesy Nikki Passannante
Passannante was firm in her belief that Petito wouldn't have gone off on her own.
Passannante stated that Petito was sweet, kind, and free-spirited. She has always had a warm personality. People instantly fall in love with her when they meet her.
Passannante, referring to the incident on Moab Police Department bodycam footage August 12, said that Petito's mental state was "getting out of control," specifically that it is being called "mental-health".
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Passannante stated that it was a struggle. She mentioned OCD because she was stressed and small things were bothering, which was making her anxious. This is not something that you should be experiencing every day.
"I believe that she used that explanation to explain why she was upset at that time and why the fight started. But I think she was angry in that video because her boyfriend was fighting her."
She said that she didn't believe her mental health was any different than anyone else her age. We all experience some anxiety.
Passannante has never met Laundrie, but Petito says they were still engaged when the couple embarked upon their trip.
Passannante claimed that Petito and Laundrie were friends in high school. However, she has never met Petito in his two-year relationship.
However, she knows Laundrie's friends who describe him as quiet and kind.
Petito with Passannante & Evans, friends. Courtesy Nikki Passannante
Passannante stated that Petito was happy in her relationship to Laundrie. However, she said it was strange that the couple got so engaged so quickly.
She said that Petito was surprised by the proposal, but that she was happy and excited about it.
After the couple began to plan their wedding, Passannante asked Steven Evans, Passannante's cousin to take photographs of the event. Passannante stated that she would be their backup photographer in case Evans couldn't travel to Florida.
She claimed that the couple were still engaged when they set out on their road trip to West. However, she did not know why Petito's mom Nichole Schmidt said they weren't engaged. Passannante stated that the wedding date was moved to accommodate their travel schedule.
Passannante claims that the couple still had two stops planned for their trip when Petito disappeared. She suggested that they might have been back in Florida by now.
After Petito returned from their road trip on September 1, Laundrie was identified as a person of concern in the case. Petito's parents filed an missing-person report September 11. According to Laundrie's lawyer, Laundrie will not be making public statements because Petito's family publicly asked for his assistance in finding her. According to police, Laundrie has not spoken with investigators.
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