Has Gabby Petito’s possible killer Brian Laundrie been found?
Human psychology is a tricky thing. We can trick ourselves into seeing something that isn’t there by convincing our brains that it exists. Whether it’s extra-terrestrials, paranormal entities, or urban legends, our imaginations run wild at the prospects of the world surrounding us. Nowhere is that more potent than when a fugitive is eluding police in a manhunt.
From John Walsh’s cryptic voice delivering Unsolved Mysteries to listening to the news updating the masses on the developments of a search, we can’t help but be drawn in. Sometimes, we are drawn in so deep that we see the person in question everywhere. In the case of Gabby Petito’s death and the resulting manhunt for Brian Laundrie, sightings have been popping up throughout the country.
Gabby Petito & Brian Laundrie left on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see the country on July 2nd, 2021, a full year to the day after announcing their engagement. From July 4th to August 12th, they visited Kansas, Colorado, and Utah in their Ford Transit van.
On August 12th, witnesses called police to an altercation in Moab, Utah, where bystanders reported a physical encounter. Laundrie had scratches on multiple places on his body, but the report stated he didn’t strike Petito. Police separated the pair, taking Laundrie to a hotel and giving Petito the keys.
Nina Celie reported on Instagram that she witnessed Laundrie & Petito engage in an explosive argument in a restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on August 27th. While she noted it wasn’t necessarily between them since Laundrie was screaming at the hostess and Gabby Petito was crying and profusely apologizing, he was very visibly angry. It was the last time the couple was seen together.
On September 17th, Laundrie’s family reported their son missing. What followed was a search for Laundrie that began in a vast Florida Wildlife preserve where his family claimed he went camping.
On September 19th, the search in Grand Teton National Park discovered human remains that resembled Petito. Medical examiners later identified her body, and an autopsy ruled her death a homicide by strangulation. After obtaining a search warrant, police & FBI swarmed the home Laundrie shared with his parents and scoured it.
Eventually, dive teams joined the search for Laundrie through dangerous swamps littered with alligators, snakes, and other wildlife; an arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie on September 23rd.
The sightings of Gabby Petito’s possible murderer have ranged anywhere from Mexico to North Carolina to the Bahamas. He’s been reported by people who have run into him in person, seen in the background of photos, and on wildlife cameras. Some are legitimate sightings requiring law enforcement to follow up, while others have been a case of mistaken identity.
The most extreme case of mistaken identity was Severin Beckwith. He and his girlfriend, Anna Brettmann, were hiking along the Appalachian trail when other hikers reported seeing Laundrie. While the couple slept at a lodge at Fontana Village Resort, the FBI broke down their door and put him in handcuffs.
“Next thing I see is a bunch of guys with riot shields with ‘U.S. Marshals’ written on them,” Beckwith recounted. After the FBI realized they didn’t have Laundrie, they released Beckwith with the advice to shave his beard.
Most recent appearance
The most recent sighting of Brian Laundrie happened on October 9th when a witness captured images of a man on a bicycle on his property in the small town of Dunnellon, Florida, three hours to the north of Laundrie’s home in North Port.
The man had a heavy backpack resembling the one seen on Laundrie during the police bodycam footage of the Moab altercation. He was cycling along a rugged sugar sand path where people rarely travel by foot or vehicle.
For someone on the run from law enforcement, Brian Laundrie seems to be popping up all over the place. Laundrie has not yet been named a suspect in Gabby Petito’s murder, but he is wanted for unauthorized use of her debit card and for questioning her death.