By Associated Press - Tuesday, September 28, 2021

MOAB, Utah — The police chief in the Utah tourist town where officers stopped Gabby Petito and her boyfriend weeks before her death has taken a leave of absence.

Moab Police Chief Bret Edge requested a leave of absence that began Monday, city spokesperson Lisa Church confirmed Tuesday. It is unclear if his request is related to criticism the department has faced over the past week after Petito‘s body was discovered in a remote area in northwestern Wyoming.

Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, got into a physical altercation Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah, that led to a police stop for a possible domestic violence case. Ultimately, police there decided to separate the quarreling couple for the night but no charges were filed and no serious injuries were reported.

Last week, the city of Moab said it would conduct a formal investigation into the police department’s handling of the dispute.

Petito was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after she didn’t respond to calls and texts for several days while she and Laundrie visited parks in the West. Petito’s death has been classified as homicide, meaning she was killed by another person, but medical examiners in Wyoming haven’t disclosed how she died pending further autopsy results.

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