‘We’re definitely still grieving the loss… and then this brings it back to the forefront of our minds,’ says Moonflower Co-op staffer
Missing YouTuber Gabby Petito had a violent argument with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie outside a Utah grocery store where a newlywed woman worked who was found murdered days later, it has emerged.
The eerie coincidence between the disappearance of Ms Petito and the murders of Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, has left residents of the small town of Moab on edge.
The Moab Police Department were called to a fight between Ms Petito and her boyfriend on August 12 near the Moonflower Community Cooperative in the centre of the resort town, where Ms Schulte had worked for four years.
Ms Schulte and Ms Turner were last seen leaving a bar in the town the next day, and their bodies were discovered on August 18.
Investigators in a Utah resort town are refusing to rule out a possible connection between the unsolved murders and the disappearance of Ms Petito.
Maggie Keating, the marketing and community outreach coordinator at the store, told The Independent no one at the store recalled seeing police that day, but the connection to another high-profile case was troubling.
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” she said.
“We’re definitely still grieving the loss. It’s only been a month and we’ve had to keep trucking along and then this brings it back to the forefront of our minds.”
Ms Keating said it was “strange” that nobody who was working that day had noticed the police officers attending the fight.
“I don’t know how we wouldn’t have known if the cops weren’t called outside our store. I’m guessing somebody was sitting outside of our store and I’m guessing that’s the person who saw them and called the police.”
Moab police released bodycam footage from the incident involving Ms Petito, 22, and her boyfriend Mr Laundrie on August 12 in the town.
Police officers attending the incident said Ms Petito had tried to hit Mr Laundrie after she feared he might drive off without her, causing her boyfriend to try to restrain her.
The incident was not deemed serious enough to merit domestic violence charges, and police sent Mr Laundrie to a hotel for the night while Ms Petito stayed in the van.
There is no evidence to connect the two incidents, but the timing and proximity to each other has prompted further unease in the town.
On Wednesday, a spokesman from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office told Fox News they were looking at any suspicious activity around the time of the double homicide.
“We’re looking at everything, I mean, anything and everything that was suspicious around that time or we’re not ruling anything out at this time,” a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said.
“So we’re just investigating the information as it comes in.”
Ms Keating told The Independent news of the disappearance of Ms Petito was “blowing up” in the town.
“I can see how people would start speculating and their imaginations would start running wild but as far as our connection to it, it seems pretty vague.
“There just happened to be an incident that somebody saw near us. But there’s no connection as far as we know.
“Having gone through experiencing not knowing what happened to Kye a month ago and just experiencing that fear I definitely can relate more to what her friends and family are going through.
“I can’t imagine now it’s been so long that she’s been missing.”
She said the close connection to a double homicide and a nationwide missing persons case in a little over a month was completely out of character for the town, which is a gateway to several national parks and ski resorts.
“When it’s not blowing up with crazy freak events, it’s spectacular.”
After their death, the grocery store posted a tribute to the murdered staff member and friend.
“The Moonflower family is heartbroken to share the news of the recent tragic passing of one of our dear employees, Kylen Schulte, as well as her wife, Crystal Beck.
“Kylen worked at Moonflower as a cashier (and amazing hat model) for the last four years and was often the first friendly face many of our owners and patrons encountered as they walked in the door. Her genuine kindness, radiant energy, and tireless work ethic touched the lives of countless people and will be deeply missed by Moonflower and the Moab community,” the shop posted to its Facebook page.