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Investigation Concludes Moab Police Made “Several Unintentional Mistakes” in Gabby Petito Case

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“The Murder of Gabby Petito” Peacock Exclusive

Content warning: This story discusses domestic violence, death and suicide.

Nearly four months after Gabby Petito‘s body was found in Wyoming, authorities are continuing to investigate the events leading up to her death. 

Last fall, police in Moab, Utah, released body cam footage showing a dispute between Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, which took place the month before she was reported missing. Officers stopped the couple, who were taking a road trip in their van, after receiving a 911 call of an alleged domestic dispute. 

A new investigation determined that the police officers who responded to the incident made “several unintentional mistakes,” according to a statement from the City of Moab obtained by E! News on Wednesday, Jan. 12, along with a copy of the report.

The city said an independent law enforcement agency completed a “thorough review” of the Aug. 12 stop involving Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23. Per the statement, the officers failed to cite Petito for domestic violence and said a statement was never obtained from the original 911 caller.

Following an investigation by Captain Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department, the report concludes that it’s “very likely” Petito was a “long-term victim of domestic violence, whether that be physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.” 

“Gabby had a job which she left in order to travel the country with Brian. Gabby was trying to start an online career which Brian didn’t support or believe she could accomplish,” it read. “Brian tried locking Gabby out of the van in an attempt to control her movements. Brian said he was trying to ‘make’ Gabby calm down and Gabby said she was trying to get Brian to stop telling her to calm down. Gabby also said Brian kept telling her to ‘shut up.'”

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The investigator said he could “only assume” that Laundrie grabbed Petito’s face to try to “make” her calm down or be quiet. He noted, “The specific act of grabbing someone’s face is extremely personal, violent, and controlling. Just because there may have been some signs that Brian was the long-term predominant aggressor, law enforcement could only act on the information they were provided.”

The conclusion also stated, “Just because Gabby was determined to be the predominant aggressor as it related to this incident, doesn’t mean she was the long-term predominant aggressor in this relationship. Oftentimes in cases of domestic violence, the long-term victim gets to a point emotionally where they defend themselves or act out in such a way where law enforcement is summoned.”

The couple’s police encounter ended with officers separating Petito and Laundrie without making an arrest, the report stated. The investigator said that although the officers “protected the victim” by separating Laundrie from the Youtuber, he did not find that they “enforced the law.” Per the investigator, “They responded to a confirmed domestic violence incident and they had evidence showing an assault had taken place. The statements of all those involved, along with the evidence presented, provided probable cause for an arrest.”

In the report, responding officer Eric Pratt reflected on the incident by saying, “We’re all doing this with the fact in our mind that we know what happened later. So, it’s really convoluted and hard to tell you like anything other than what I thought at the time which was if I missed a big red flag that he was a murderer, then yes I missed it.”

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He alleged, “If I would have known he was going to murder her, I would have taken vacation to follow them, because I care about people, to the point where he was going to murder her… I’m desperately f–ked over that she got killed. I really am. I would have done anything to stop it if I would have known that was coming.” 

The report recommended the Moab City Police Department make improvements to its policies and trainings, the city said. The statement noted that Moab plans to implement the recommendations, which included additional legal training and training in domestic violence investigations. 

The investigator also recommended probation for both officers and “Overall Policy Review.”

The city’s statement added, “The City of Moab sends our sincere condolences to the Petito family. Our hearts go out to them as they continue to deal with the tragic loss of their daughter.”

Police determined that Petito was killed three to four weeks before her body was found in September 2021. Her cause of death was strangulation.

Laundrie, who was a person of interest and not a suspect in Petito’s death, was discovered dead in Florida in October 2021. His family attorney previously told E! News that his cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and that he died by suicide.

The Moab City Police Department had no further comment when contacted by E! News. E! News reached out to the Petito and Laundrie families for comment on the report but hasn’t heard back.

For more true crime updates on your need-to-know cases, head to Oxygen.com.

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SOURCE SPORTS: Remembering Kobe Bryant With 8 Of His Top NBA Highlights

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Remembering Kobe Bryant:

Today marks the second anniversary of untimely death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi Bryant. The legacy of Bryant continues to live on through generations of athletes, the city of Los Angeles, philanthropy, literature and beyond. To celebrate his life, we are looking back on some of his biggest moments that made him a global icon and basketball hall of famer.

February 8, 1997: Bryant wins the 1997 Nestle Crunch Slam Dunk contest as a rookie during All Star Weekend in Cleveland.

June 14, 2000: Bryant scores 28 points against the Indiana Pacers in game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals. Bryant would go on to win his first NBA championship in 6 games.

December 19, 2005: Bryant scores 62 points in just 33 minutes at Staple Center against Dallas Mavericks.

January 22, 2006 : Bryant roasted the Toronto Raptors for 81 points at the Staples Center.

March 16, 2007: Bryant finishes up another stellar performance with 65 points against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center.

February 2, 2009: Bryant touches the New York Knicks, scoring 61 points at Madison Square Garden.

June 17, 2010: Bryant closes out the rival Boston Celtics in seven games to win his 5th NBA title with the Lakers.

April 16, 2016: Bryant scores 60 points in his grand finale NBA game at Staples Center against the Utah Jazz.

Share your thoughts remembering Kobe Bryant on social media with us.

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‘Bel-Air’: The New Will Smith Flees Trouble in West Philly in Teaser for Upcoming Reboot

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Peacock has shared a new teaser from Bel-Air, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air reboot, which arrives on the streaming service on Super Bowl Sunday.

The 45-second preview focuses on the confrontation at a West Philadelphia pickup basketball game that leads to the character Will Smith’s sojourn to Bel Air. While that incident is simply described in the opening credits from the original sitcom — where the main aggressor picks up the Will Smith and spins him around — the fight is much more harrowing in the dramatic reboot, with punches thrown, guns drawn, and police called.

The first three of 10 hourlong episodes of Bel-Air will stream Feb. 13 on Peacock, with new episodes to follow weekly.

The series was inspired by the 2019 fake trailer — created by cinematographer Morgan Cooper, who now serves as director and co-writer on Bel Air — that turned the Nineties sitcom into a “dramatic retelling.”

“With this dramatic reimagining, we wanted to create a show that stands on its own while honoring the spirit and innovation of the original series,” Cooper previously said in a statement. “Because Bel-Air is a drama, we’re able to really peel back the layers of these characters and themes in a way that you simply couldn’t do 30 years ago in the half-hour sitcom format. We’re able to go have tough conversations that challenge perspectives. At its core, Bel-Air is a celebration of the Black experience through the perspective of a family,” Cooper said in a statement. “My approach to the series started with a deep focus on tone and really being intentional with my creative choices… Everything can be inspiration, and having a two-season order gives us the opportunity to go infinitely deeper narratively, visually, and aesthetically. I think that with Bel-Air we have created something unique and honest.”

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The NFT Art World Wouldn’t Be the Same Without This Woman’s ‘Wide-Awake Hallucinations’

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Her creativity helped fuel a technological revolution she knew almost nothing about. Although the Bored Ape Yacht Club — now, arguably, the world’s biggest NFT project — first appeared online in May and quickly started selling for millions, the woman who drew its primary characters had no idea that the collection was a hit until she Googled the name months later.

These cartoonish primates have since generated more than a billion dollars and lassoed mainstreamers into the crypto scene. Yet Seneca — the 27-year-old Asian-American artist who played an integral role in bringing their ideas to life — gets little credit.

Watching NFT enthusiasts graffiti every corner of the Internet with variations of her work has been bittersweet. Imagine casually walking into a museum only to stumble upon your own art hanging on the wall behind velvet ropes; when Seneca logged onto Twitter and saw that Steph Curry was using an avatar she birthed as his profile picture, her eyes bulged. “It really took me some time to wrap my head around all this,” she tells Rolling Stone over Zoom. She’s sitting cross-legged on the floor of her living room in her Manhattan apartment, in front of a small gray couch — under which she somewhat haphazardly stores a stack of pastel paintings. “I still am. It’s still quite surreal.”

Behind the couch is her tiny, usually cluttered workspace, which Seneca calls her studio. Born in the U.S. to Chinese parents and raised in Shanghai, Seneca came back stateside to attend the Rhode Island School of Design. After graduating in 2016, and then relocating to New York as a freelance illustrator, this nook became her office. Head down, she concentrated on designing vibrant, at-times fantastical characters à la 2D animation for marketing campaigns and advertisements. (While her paintings were and are more abstract, she was compelled to find a “realistic” way of monetizing her passion.)

When a creative agent named Nicole Muniz spotted her college portfolio — and fell in love with her technique, “down to the lines and brushstrokes,” according to Muniz  — she started connecting Seneca with companies across various industries like healthcare, insurance, green energy, and finance. Last year, Muniz, who’s also known by her pseudonym V Strange, called Seneca with a somewhat left-of-center proposal: Her childhood friend was starting something called the Bored Ape Yacht Club, she had jumped aboard as an advisor, and he needed graphic designers to whip up some images before the still-growing trend of NFTs really took off.

Muniz immediately thought of Seneca’s chameleonic abilities. “She is one of the few artists who can actually draw differently depending on the subject matter and the project,” Muniz — who recently became co-CEO of Yuga Labs, the Web3 company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club — tells Rolling Stone. “That’s very, very, very rare.” Yuga Labs co-founder Gargamel says he was struck by the “expressiveness” of her characters. “There’s a whole mood that gets conveyed,” he tells Rolling Stone via email. “For the apes, we arrived at exactly the mood we were after: existential boredom.” Muniz agrees: “She’s particularly skilled at expression and bringing characters to life.”

Though Seneca wasn’t familiar with NFTs at the time, Yuga Labs gave her a lot of room to play in the collaboration. “They said, ‘We want punk apes. What do you think that would look like? What kind of style would you like? What do you think will look good?’” She imagined herself as an ape’s neighbor in a grungy city where the primates roam free as citizens. She saw “an ape that’s kind of jaded and tired of life but has all the money and time in the world, and hangs out at a metal bar” and ran through fictitious interactions with the creature. “That’s where that idea came from.”

Creating the apes’ aesthetic poured out of her naturally: A self-declared metalhead, Seneca plays a Gibson SG — which Muniz says she “slays” — and listens to bands like Megadeth, Behemoth, and Bullet for My Valentine. But she’s also a lover of Nineties gross-out animation, from which she drew inspiration. “I just love the grit of it all,” she says.

To be clear, Seneca was not the project’s sole illustrator. “I am the lead artist behind the original collection,” she says. The ape body itself, she adds, is “exactly line-for-line” her drawing. Other production artists — “Thomas Dagley, Migwashere, and a couple who chose to remain anonymous,” according to Gargamel — handled the traits and environment. However, she points out, she did develop some of the major traits, like the grinning mouth, the popping eyes, and the beanie.

“Not of ton of people know that I did these drawings, which is terrible for an artist,” she says. Word of mouth has been growing, though, and she hopes that will help her find more collaborations. In the meantime, she’s focusing on her solo work.

In December, Seneca dropped her debut series of NFTs under her own name as part of a collection called Iconoclast at Miami’s Art Basel. The four pieces she contributed were minted on Ethereum and hosted on what’s called the Internet Computer blockchain. (Hosting the NFTs on the Internet Computer should ensure that the NFT artwork lives forever on a public blockchain without threat of a takedown or cloud-outage issues.)

The pieces ended up generating 23.7 ETH, which equates to about $84,000 at press time. She says it’s enough to pay the bills and then some, giving her the luxury of unadulterated time to craft her next series, which she hopes to unveil in February. Plus, she gets to unleash a mesmerizing personal style that’s been many years in the making and still evolving. “Her art is very evocative of a woman in progress,” says Ken Wong, an illustrator who art directed Seneca’s favorite video game, Alice: Madness Returns. (Wong met while he was working in Shanghai. Seneca approached him after he gave a speech about his profession at her high school; she says “he really introduced the world of illustration to [her].”) “If you were to label Seneca’s work, you could [call it] pop surrealism, but that might be a bit reductive… She’s exploring. She’s finding her voice amongst pre-existing voices. She’s evolving by trying on different art styles, and I can really relate to that.”

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Seneca’s piece “Delirium” showed at Art Basel in 2021.

Courtesy of Seneca

Despite technical shifts in her approach, her images often encapsulate a soft childlike wonder that contrasts a harsh, existential darkness. “It’s a combination of being very personal and very pop at the same time,” says Wong. “The shapes that she uses — these organic, flowing shapes are very dreamlike with surreal color schemes — I think they speak to how she views things deep inside her head. But, at the same time, it’s through a lens of pop culture. It’s almost like she’s trying to rationalize herself in the context of the world.”

That sentiment comes across quite literally in a piece called “Delirium” from the 2021 Art Basel collection, in which flora, fauna, and limbs bust out of the gaping eye sockets of a girl’s unnaturally oblong head. “That’s me being like, ‘You know, everything’s kind of fucking crazy, and that’s okay,” Seneca says. “That’s how your mind works.”

Another piece, titled “Can I Be M0ther,” shows the same girl. This time, though, her bug-like eyes appear pastel and prismatic as they shed thick, gloppy tears. It’s unclear whether veins, wires, or threads are slithering out of them. The strands fall, wrapping around her outstretched hands, which are cradling what appears to be a malfunctioning toy ape. “As a commercial artist, I saw myself as a kind of surrogate,” she explains. “Since art is such an emotionally charged extension of you, it’s deeply personal and, to a certain extent, you have to distance yourself from that work in order to give it away. That piece is very much me saying, ‘Can I reclaim my work? Can I reclaim my identity as an artist?’”

Part of that identity, Seneca says, is guided by the lucid nightmares that have plagued her from as far back as she can remember. Her earliest memory is a nightmare she had at three years old. “I was in a stroller,” she recalls. “I had this feeling of being small and vulnerable.” She doesn’t go into greater detail, but realizes those themes have consistently trickled their way through her work, which she says is inspired by cosmic horror — a genre wherein the crushing weight of being a small speck within the vast unknown is the most terrifying villain.

“I was more interested in being in my imagination than reality,” she says of her early years, noting that she kept to herself most of the time, was mute for the majority of her childhood, and sometimes experienced “wide-awake hallucinations.”

She remembers going through all her deepest fears before bedtime, thinking that if she addressed them head on, they wouldn’t pop up in her nightmares — but oftentimes that backfired, keeping her awake instead. “I didn’t want to sleep because I was terrified of this world I would jump into,” she says.

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Maria Wurtz for Rolling Stone

Only recently has Seneca come to accept “that madness part of it” — turning the “surrealism and non-sensical dark art” inside her into something beautiful, which she finds therapeutic. “It’s why I do what I do,” she says before admitting this isn’t something she shares with a lot of people for the fear of being considered “insane.”

Lucky for her, insanity, or some version of it, is welcome in Web3: Crypto couldn’t exist without an urge to deviate from the norm. She hopes the sector thrives for years to come. Her experience with the Bored Ape Yacht Club “taught [her] a lot of life lessons,” and she urges aspiring creators to make sure they understand NFTs and smart contracts, ask for royalties, and know the potential. “Be strong in your convictions and work extremely hard,” she says. “And be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Things move very, very fast on crypto-Twitter and in this space. As long as you keep an eye on it, but pay no mind and just focus in your lane, you’ll do fine eventually.”

Of course, “fine” is relative. While she’s not able to discuss financial specifics, her compensation, she says, “was definitely not ideal.” However, she insists, she’s grateful for the experience and the entryway to a realm she can no longer imaging living without. She’s since fallen hard for the idea of NFTs, because they can authenticate and preserve art, provide creators with royalties, and make the art world more inclusive and less reliant on the gallery system.

She sees her second series — which she says will be digital but also involve other mediums — as an extension of the surrealist groundwork she’s laid, but bolder. She’s cagey in discussing works in progress but adds that she’s been putting emphasis on mental health and the power of strong women. The new work just might contain “a few criticisms,” too.

“I’m very optimistic about the space,” she says. “I’m using that as a driver.”

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