The mother of Gabby Petito believes the final text message she received from her daughter claiming she was in Yosemite was a fake.
Nichole Schmidt said she received a text message from her daughter on 30 August which said: “No service in Yosemite”.
Ms Petito’s last confirmed location was in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on 25 August, 800 miles from California’s Sierra Nevada mountains where Yosemite is located.
Ms Schmidt told the Daily Mail she was certain the text was faked and suspected her daughter’s boyfriend Brian Laundrie may have sent it to deceive the family.
She wouldn’t reveal the contents of other messages she received from her daughter, but said it didn’t seem like something Ms Petito would say.
“That text was NOT from Gabby I know it!” she told the Mail.
Mr Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the case after returning to his Florida home without Ms Petito on 1 September.
It would be another 10 days until the alarm was raised that she was missing, after Ms Schmidt’s text messages to Mr Laundrie and his mother Roberta went ignored.
Ms Schmidt last spoke to her daughter on about 24 August. The couple were planning to head to Yellowstone National Park.
On Thursday, Ms Petito’s father, mother, stepmother and stepfather, issued an open letter pleading for help from Mr Laundrie’s parents Christopher and Roberta.
“We are writing this letter to ask you to help find our beautiful daughter. We understand you are going through a difficult time and your instinct to protect your son is strong,” they wrote in the open letter read to media by their family attorney Richard Stafford.
“We believe you know the location of where Brian left Gabby. We beg you to tell us. As a parent, how could you let us go through this pain and not help us. As a parent how could you put Gabby’s younger brothers and sisters through this.”
The case has attracted an avid online following, and some keen observers have noticed inconsistencies with Ms Petito’s final Instagram posts.
The last post, from 26, August , showed her in front of a butterfly mural with a small knitted pumpkin with the caption “happy halloween”. Her previous post, on 19 August, showed the view of a park from inside her van.
Unlike her usual posts, these two did not have a location tag.