What began as a quest for adventure has now turned to tragedy in the case of one Long Island family who is missing a daughter. Gabby Petito, 22, disappeared while on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, leaving her family without answers. Her last known whereabouts were reportedly Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, travelling in a white 2012 Ford Transit van with Florida plates.
Gabby was last seen in person by her family was when she arrived home in June for her little brother’s high school graduation. It wasn’t long afterwards that Gabby set out on a journey with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie—Gabby’s second cross-country trip. Rather than seeing the country from her cramped car, Gabby made the decision to downsize her life so it could fit into the aforementioned Ford Transit. A prolific social media user, Gabby had documented her trip on YouTube. In July, Gabby Petito wrote on social media, “All the places it’s brought us so far have been amazing! As soon as we got to the Great Sand Dunes, I didn’t want to leave, there was so much to hike!”
Gabby’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, reported that her daughter had been keeping in regular contact with her during the trip. Their last FaceTime was either August 23 or 24, and Schmidt continued to receive text messages from her daughter—though she was not sure if the text messages came from her daughter or not. Between August 25 and 30, Schmidt received a number of text messages, but she wasn’t able to contact Gabby or Laudrie after August 30. On September 11, her family reported her missing.
Investigators are unsure of Gabby’s exact movements between August 24 and August 30, as they have not yet been able to contact Laundrie. After returning to his home in North Port, Florida, Laundrie hired an attorney, and has not yet begun cooperating with the authorities. “We talked with his parents, who did not make him available,” said Josh Taylor, the spokesman for the North Port Police. This has left investigators and Gabby’s loved ones to try and piece together her movements from her social media pages. Family friends have stated that the last post on Gabby’s Instagram was very uncharacteristic of her typical sort of post. Gabby’s friend, Nikki Passannante told the New York Post, “A two-word caption is very odd for Gabby. Usually, it’s a deep meaningful caption or otherwise she’ll detail her travels. This doesn’t really seem like she posted it, in my opinion.” Lanundrie has been described as missing by investigators who hope to speak with him and get any information on Gabby’s last known whereabouts.
This case has attracted fervent media attention, which was only further inflamed by the discovery of a body in Grand Tenton National Park. Investigators have said that the body’s description matches Petito, but will not have confirmation on this until an autopsy can be performed on Tuesday.
Petito was described by police and on a GoFundMe page as 5 feet 5, 110 pounds, blond with blue eyes.
“She has a triangle tattoo on left arm with flowers and a ‘Let it be’ tattoo written on her right arm. She has a Belly button piercing,” the post said.
At 9:00 am on September 20, 1988, a hazel-eyed 19 year-old named Tara Leigh Calico set off on a bike ride from her home in the sleepy New Mexico town of Belen. Keen cyclist Tara had borrowed her mother’s neon pink Huffy mountain bike because her own was damaged. She was last seen at 11:45 am, making her way along Highway 47 in Valencia County. When Tara left home that morning, nobody could have imagined that she would soon be classed a missing person.
Tara Calico had made plans to play tennis with her boyfriend that afternoon. Having expected her home by lunchtime, Tara’s mother Patty Doel began to worry, and decided to set out in search of her daughter. Unable to find a trace of Tara, Patty contacted the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office. Missing person investigations quickly sprung into action, and police spoke to a witness that had seen a light-colored pickup truck driving alongside Tara. They discovered broken pieces of the young woman’s Walkman and cassette tape on the roadside, but no other signs or leads were forthcoming.
A Mysterious Polariod Is Discovered
Almost a year later, in June of 1989, a shopper made an alarming discovery in Port St. Joe, Florida. Some fifteen hundred miles from where Tara Calico had gone missing, the woman found a polaroid photograph in the parking lot of a Junior Food Store. She’d noticed the small printed picture after a white Toyota van pulled away from the parking spot. To her alarm, the woman realized that it depicted a young woman and a little boy, bound and gagged in the back of a van, so she called the police.
Local police immediately began searching both for the van and the possible captives suspected to be within it. Road blocks were set up around the area, but the vehicle was never found. Having both gone cold, the two cases were not connected until July 28, when Tara’s father Joel received a call from a friend who had seen the Polaroid image on a Current Affair television show.
The Sheriff’s apartment agreed that the girl in the image shared a likeness with Tara, although they couldn’t be sure. Simultaneously, the case of missing 9 year-old, Michael Henley, was also tied to the photograph. The boy had vanished in April of that year when hunting with his father around 75 miles from the location of Tara’s disappearance.
Uncertainty And Poor Communication
The Polaroid was analyzed by both the FBI and Scotland Yard, with the former concluding that it wasn’t Tara, and the latter concluding that it was. Michael Henley’s parent’s were convinced that the Polaroid depicted their son, but their suspicions were dispelled when the boy’s remains were found in 1990, not far from where he had gone missing. Mother Patty pointed out that the girl in the image shared the same scar as Tara on the back of her right shoulder. A book by one of Tara’s favorite authors was also visible beside the girl in the van.
Adding to the anguish of Tara’s parents, two more Polaroids appeared in the years that followed; one blurrily depicting a young woman’s face, and a second showing a bound young woman with an unidentified male on an Amtrak train. The identity of the individuals in all three Polaroids has never been confirmed.
As the search continued, a diversity of false leads led missing person investigators on several wild-goose-chases in their hunt for Tara Calico. In 2008, Valencia Sheriff Rene Rivera claimed that he knew what had happened to Tara, describing witness accounts of two teenage males seen harassing Tara before knocking her from her bicycle with their vehicle. Rivera indicated that they may have disposed of her body having killed her by accident, but refused to name the suspects citing a lack of evidence. Tara’s father Joel was reportedly greatly distressed that no arrests were made.
Reaching Out For Additional Missing Person Assistance
In their quest to discover what happened to their daughter, Tara’s parents never gave up hope. Each year, they brought Tara gifts and kept her room ready, just in case she ever returned home. Tragically, both Patty and Joel passed away without ever learning what happened to their daughter. Tara’s siblings and friends continue to search for answers.
For those who face the immense burden of a missing loved one today, there are more options available when it comes to seeking missing person assistance. The team here at Lauth Investigations are ever-ready to turn expertise, cutting edge resources, and more than two decades of experience to following the trail of your missing loved one. We can also assist with establishing effective Go Fund Me campaigns, so that friends and family members can focus on the search rather than fretting about finances. New resources such as Interpol’s I Familia database also aid us in taking missing person investigations international. To discover more about how we can assist, contact our team today.
While the role of an international private investigator usually revolves around people missing overseas, at times a mystery arises in another form all together. Such was the case when, in 2016, sisters Annie and Robin Korkki were found dead on the same hotel bed in the Seychelles. Both from Minnesota, U.S., the pair had been enjoying the holiday of a lifetime. When their sudden deaths both shocked and fascinated the world, it became the task of those at the helm of the case to deconstruct the perplexing circumstances that surrounded the sisters’ death, and provide much needed answers to both their family and the public.
An Unexplained Loss Of Life
On the 15th September of 2016, Annie and Robin Korkki had arrived at the Maia Luxury Resort and Spa in the Seychelles, having already journeyed through Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar. Rounding off their Africa trip with a stay at this exclusive holiday destination—where rooms are reported to have cost $2,000 a night at the time of their visit—the two women were seen making the most of the decadent setting, relaxing in the hotel’s bars.
On the night of September 21st, Anne “Annie” Korkki and Robin Korkki—37 and 42 years of age respectively—were helped by a butler to return to their room at the end of the evening. Locking the door behind them, what happened to the sisters next remains partially unclear. The following morning, as the hours passed, resort staff noticed that the door remained locked, tried to wake the women, and then reported their concern to local police. Upon investigating, the authorities discovered both of the Korkki sisters lying motionless on the bed and quickly identified them as deceased.
A Series of Strange Circumstances
News of the tragic deaths of Annie and Robin Korkki soon reached the international media, and reports emerged that medications were taken from the room as part of the investigation, but that the room was undisturbed with no signs of struggle, and that no illegal substances had been discovered. Initial postmortem results revealed that Annie Korkki’s lungs were full of fluid—described as acute pulmonary and cerebral edema—while only Robin’s lungs had been effected. While these indicators gave some clue to the circumstances of the two women’s deaths, what had triggered these symptoms remained a mystery.
Speaking with the Chicago Tribune, a forensic pathologist shared that any number of things could have caused the edema, including drugs or poisons. And yet, both of the sisters were in good health, seasoned travelers, and upstanding citizens—with the elder working as a financial trader in Chicago and the younger at a JPMorgan Chase in Denver. As media interest continued to swirl around the concerning case, the Korkki family arrived on the islands and coordinated with the local authorities and U.S. embassy to arrange bringing the bodies of their loved ones home, all the while hoping to find answers.
Some Clarity But a Sadly Sombre Conclusion
Months after the passing of Annie and Robin Korkki, a conclusive toxicology report was finally released in December of 2016. The police concluded their investigation, announcing that both Korkki sisters had died following a lethal combination of codeine, morphine, and alcohol. Their statement shared that the deaths of the sisters were determined to be accidental. While this final revelation in the Korkki case brought at least partial of closure to the sisters’ story, a degree of mystery will always remain as to how such a tragic loss of life could have come to pass. Thomas Lauth and his team at Missing Persons Investigations Worldwide strive to bring you the latest insight on people missing abroad, and guidance on what to do when your loved one goes missing overseas. As an expert in missing children and adults worldwide, international private investigator Thomas Lauth offers the highest caliber of assistance to those who need it most. If you require support in locating a missing person, contact our team today to learn more.
When we think of missing persons, we typically think of missing children, or missing women who have run afoul of a predator. We picture candlelit vigils, balloon releases, pictures of devastated families who are still waiting for answers in the disappearance of their loved one. What we don’t typically think of are suspects or subjects of an investigation who have purposely vanished in order to escape responsibility or culpability for their actions. These missing persons may be career criminals, or individuals with no history of violence. Whatever the reason for their flight, families who are victims of their crimes may opt to hire a private investigator to find a fugitive in order to facilitate delivery of justice.
One of the best recent examples of attempting to find a fugitive is the tragic case of J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan out of Iowa. Back in 2018, the children were reported missing when the family could not confirm the last time the children had been seen alive. Their mother, Lori Vallow, had recently pulled them out of school citing that the family was planning to move out of state and planning to homeschool the children. While Lori continued to remain evasive with her family regarding the details of their new living situation, J.J.’s grandparents became increasingly suspicious that Lori and her new husband, Chad Daybell, has harmed the children and were now covering up their disappearance. Following up on their grandson’s disappearance, the Rexburg police conducted a welfare check on J.J., at which time Lori advised the boy was with her friend, which turned out to be false. On November 26, 2019, the police arrive to serve the newlywed Daybells with a search warrant on their home, they discovered they had fled their home and subsequently the state. At the time, Lori and Chad Daybell were only named as persons of interest in their disappearance of Lori’s children, but their flight from police made them appear even more suspicious—to say nothing of the other suspicious deaths that surrounded the disappearance of the children. Investigators worked tirelessly to track the Daybells down to the island of Kauai, Hawaii where they were celebrating their recent marriage. Lori was under a court order to produce the children before 5 p.m. on January 30th, 2020, which she failed to do, resulting in her arrest. Following a search of Chad Daybell’s property, the remains of both children were located in his backyard, leading to his subsequent arrest.
When individuals try to outrun the law, they may be able to do so successfully due to the quality of communication between jurisdictions in the United States. While it’s true that missing persons, with or without culpability, are entered into the appropriate databases, it is perilously easy for investigators to miss crucial information on a case because it might be in another jurisdiction’s database. This is why in highly prioritized cases, the initial investigating agency will contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help with the search, gaining the benefit of their national resources and extended labor power. However, even with the nation’s every resource at their fingertips, it can still be difficult to find these fugitives—and that’s if the missing fugitive is a top priority.
There are many families who have experienced the perceived indifference of law enforcement in getting justice on their behalf. To find a fugitive is a very detailed process, and sometimes local entities come up short. This typically happens in cases where the initial investigating agency has been unable to build a case against them. For instance, if an individual has been murdered, their family might have every reason to believe it was at the hands of someone with whom they have a history of violence or disagreements. Following the flight of this individual from jurisdiction, if law enforcement has been unable to build a case against them, they are free to roam about the country. While they continue living their lives, families can be left twisting in the wind without answers.
In cases where law enforcement has been unable to move on a search for suspects or persons of interest in a case, families have contracted private investigators to find those subjects. Private investigators are not bound by jurisdiction, but by their licensure in respective states throughout the nation. Therefore, when a subject travels outside the jurisdiction, P.I.s do not have the typical restrictions in place that prevent them from following where the leads take them. Private investigators also have access to nationwide databases for both public and restricted records in any state. If the missing subject attempts to reboot their life in another part of the country using their identity, private investigators can locate their new area of operations. Private investigators can assemble detailed reports on these subjects and coordinate with local law enforcement in order to successfully recover those individuals.
If your family needs help finding a person of interest in your case, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on how our investigators can help you. Call 317-951-1100 or visit us online at www.lauthmissingpersons.com
Revealed: The Hidden Methods Private Investigators Use to Find Missing Persons
The true crime world is fascinated by tales of missing persons. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services are always adding new documentaries and series about missing persons, which often detail the sophisticated methods that law enforcement uses to find missing persons. However, when law enforcement cannot close a missing person case, families will turn to the expertise of a private investigator to find a missing person—but without the resources and support of a law enforcement agency, how does a private investigator find a missing person?
Although private investigators do not have access to the same level of informational resources as law enforcement, they still have tools at their disposal to help find a missing person. Through their licensure by the state, private investigators have access to verified databases that allow them to conduct background checks on subjects in a case. When trying to find a missing person, these databases can be used to develop leads, find a subject’s last known address, look up criminal histories, and so much more.
Private investigators typically have diverse and comprehensive experience in surveillance operations. Surveillance is one of the covert ways that private investigators can find a missing person. Surveillance operations are a great way for private investigators to collect data, develop leads, and document the unseen factors in a missing person case. For example, when trying to find a missing person in a sex trafficking ring, private investigators may set up surveillance equipment around a suspected hub of operations in order to develop a concrete plan for recovery. Such recordings and pictures can also be used in criminal and civil court.
When trying to find a missing person, one of a private investigator’s best tools is their ability to identify potential witnesses and develop a rapport with them in order to extract information. This can be done overtly or covertly. Sometimes investigators attempt to develop a personal relationship with witnesses in order to extract information from them without suspicion. Within reason, investigators may also wear disguises and present alternative pretenses for speaking with the witness. Whatever the circumstances of the case demands, investigators have the ability to develop leads and corroborate previously received testimony regarding the relevant facts in the case.
In some circumstances, it might become necessary for an investigator to develop a ruse or undercover operation in order to find a missing person. Investigators have been known to go undercover as delivery drivers, party patrons, or in extreme circumstances, embedding themselves into criminal enterprise in order to get answers. Investigators can wear covert surveillance equipment on their person, such as hidden cameras and microphones, in order to document relevant facts in the case and use them to develop further leads in recovering or finding the missing person.
Keeping a missing person’s face out in the media is crucial to a continuing a flow of information and leads for investigators. Though it may sound harsh, the public has a very short memory. Cases of missing people, particularly women of color, are forgotten almost as soon as they’re heard. It typically falls to the families of missing persons to conduct missing person awareness campaigns on their own time, relentlessly sharing their picture and story so that it may increase the chances of their loved one being found. Law enforcement does not typically devote sources specifically to awareness campaigns, but private investigators sometimes offer online awareness campaigns as part of their services for finding missing persons. The more time the missing person’s face is in the public eye, the more leads investigators are likely to generate.
The family of Suzanne Morphew has finally seen movement in the case of the missing Colorado mother who disappeared one year ago. Her husband, Barry Morphew, has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in the presumed death of Suzanne, authorities announced on Wednesday.
Though Suzanne Morphew’s body has not been found, the affidavit that was the basis for Morphew’s arrest detailed reasons why investigators believe he is responsible for his wife’s disappearance and presumed death. While that affidavit remains under seal, Morphew also exercised his right to remain silent, immediately asking for representation following his arrest. Chaffe County Sheriff, John Spezze, said, “Today is not the day for celebration nor does it mark the end of this investigation. Rather it’s the next step in this very difficult yet very important journey as we seek justice for Suzanne and her family.”
Suzanne Morphew, 49, has been missing for over a year, disappearing on May 10, 2020, Mother’s Day. She was reported missing when a neighbor called 911 to report that Morphew had gone for a bike ride and never returned. In a Facebook video that arched many eyebrows on the internet, Barry Morphew pled with the public for any information leading to her safe return, offering a $200,000 reward. “Now questions asked, however much they want, I will do whatever it takes to get you back,” Morphew said in the video.
When searches by law enforcement of the area where Suzanne went bike-riding turned up nothing, her brother, Andy Moorman, announced in mid-September that he was recruiting and organizing volunteers for his own search efforts. “I need to find her, need to bring her home, give her a proper burial and closure for my family,” he told KMGH-TV. “And that’s my point, I’m not about finding somebody guilty or trying to inflict punishment on anyone. That’s law enforcement’s job.”
Morphew’s arrest is the result of a sprawling effort by law enforcement to find answers in his wife’s disappearance. More than 135 searches have been conducted in the state of Colorado, and investigators interviewed an excess of 400 people across several states. Suzanne was described by Spezze as “a rare find” and someone who was much beloved by those who knew her. She had two daughters at the time of her disappearance.