Gabby Petito's disappearance garnered almost-instant media attention when the 22-year-old Long Island native was reported missing by her family on September 11, 2021. Petito was on a summer road trip with her fiance, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, and the couple was documenting their travels via YouTube and Instagram. Petito's family told authorities that she had stayed in close contact with them throughout the summer, but communication stopped in late August. A little over a week into the search for Petito, investigators discovered her remains in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.
The last known person to see Gabby Petito alive was Brian Laundrie, whose remains were found in Florida's Carlton Reserve on October 20 following a month-long manhunt. Prior to this discovery, there were multiple unconfirmed sightings of Laundrie in North Carolina, and neighbors claimed they saw him running from his home days after his parents said he initially left.
Here are all the facts we know about what happened to Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.
Gabby Petito Embarked On A Cross-Country Road Trip With Her Fiance Brian Laundrie In June 2021
Gabby Petito began dating Brian Laundrie in March 2019, and the two got engaged in July 2020. In June 2021, traveling in a white Ford van owned by Petito, the couple left their home in Florida to undertake a cross-country road trip in which they would visit various national parks throughout the summer.
Petito had started a YouTube channel called Nomadic Statik to document her travels with Laundrie, and she also had a corresponding Instagram account and website. Petito posted reguarly on Instagram throughout the summer, but her posts ended after August 25.
On September 1, Laundrie Returned To His Parents’ House Without Petito
According to a license plate scanner, Petito's white Ford van entered the city of North Port, FL - where the couple lived with Laundrie's parents - at 10:26 am ET on September 1. However, only Laundrie was in the van.
The Laundrie family then reportedly went camping together on September 6 at the Fort De Soto Campground, about 75 miles away from their home in North Port. Evidence indicates that the Laundries were scheduled to stay at the campsite from September 1-3 but canceled their reservations on August 31 and rescheduled for September 6. This was when Brian Laundrie was added to the trip's guest list.
Petito’s Parents Reported Her Missing On September 11 After Not Hearing From Her For Two Weeks
Gabby Petito reportedly stayed in regular contact with her parents, Nicole Schmidt and Joe Petito, during her road trip with Laundrie. She even had a FaceTime call with her mother on August 24. After that, the family only received text messages from Petito, and contact ceased after August 30. Petito's parents, who both live in New York, made several attempts to contact their daughter before reporting her missing on September 11.
As police began searching for Petito 11 days after Laundrie returned from their trip, Petito's van was found parked outside the Laundrie home. Laundrie invoked his Fifth Amendment right when questioned by authorities. As a police spokesman put it, "We were essentially handed the information for their attorney."
- Video: YouTube
Police Body Cam Footage Of The Couple Getting Pulled Over On August 12 Raised Questions About Their Relationship
Less than two weeks before Gabby Petito's final contact with her family, police stopped her and Laundrie in Moab, UT. Body camera footage shows Petito and Laundrie explaining that they had been fighting in the van, and that Petito had hit Laundrie's arm as he was driving, causing the van to swerve and run over a curb.
Police had been following the couple after a witness reported that Petito and Laundrie were involved in a domestic dispute. The witness told police, "They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off." The couple had reportedly been fighting over a cell phone.
When police asked what was wrong, Petito stated, "We've just been fighting this morning. Personal issues." Police would spend roughly an hour interviewing the couple before letting them drive away.
Though Laundrie Told Police He Didn’t Own A Cell Phone, He Seemingly Held One While Speaking With Them
Before being pulled over by police, Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie were reportedly seen fighting over a cell phone. When police questioned them, body cam footage recorded Laundrie saying, "I was holding onto the keys because I didn’t want to go anywhere, and my big fear is, I don’t have my phone." Not having a phone was apparently also the reason Laundrie did not want to separate from Petito for the night as police suggested.
Despite telling police he did not have a phone, the body cam footage shows Laundrie putting what appears to be a cell phone into his pants pocket. Furthermore, once Laundrie agreed to stay at a motel for the night, Petito told police, "Make sure he doesn’t forget a phone charger."
Two Separate Women Each Claim They Gave Laundrie A Ride On August 29 After Spotting Him Hitchhiking In Wyoming
Around 5:30 pm MT on August 29, a woman named Miranda Baker and her boyfriend allegedly gave Brian Laundrie a ride after they saw him hitchhiking in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Laundrie reportedly offered the couple $200 to drive him roughly 10 miles, which Baker found odd. He then told Baker and her boyfriend that he was on his way to Jackson, WY, and when the couple said that was also their destination, he asked to get out of the car.
Baker also noted that Laundrie talked about having a fiancee who was working on a travel vlog back at their van. Baker contacted police about the incident after seeing a TikTok about Petito's disappearance.
A second woman, Norma Jean Jalovec, also reported giving Laundrie a ride after seeing a TikTok from Miranda Baker. Jalovec told authorities that she picked up Laundrie around 6:15 pm MT on August 29, about 45 minutes after Baker's encounter. Jalovec said she dropped Laundrie off at the Spread Creek dispersed camping area, which was where Petito's remains were later found.
In addition to the hitchhiking reports, a woman named Jessica Schultz said that she was stuck behind a slow-moving white van in late August that abruptly pulled off the road. As Schultz passed the van, she said she saw a "generic" white man who she later realized was Brian Laundrie.