A major search continues for Gabby Petito’s partner
Federal prosecutors have indicted Brian Laundrie in the case of Gabby Petito, whose remains were discovered in Wyoming last week after an extensive nationwide search.
The partner of the 22-year-old van blogger, whose death has been ruled a homicide, Mr Laundrie was travelling with Ms Petito on a cross-country road trip when she went missing.
He returned to his family’s home in Florida alone with the van the couple had been living in, and ultimately disappeared himself. Days later, when Mr Laundrie’s parents reported his disappearance, a major manhunt was launched, which remains underway.
The FBI announced the charge against Mr Laundrie on Thursday for alleged “use of unauthorised access devices” along with an arrest warrant. Here’s everything we know about the missing man so far:
Authorities had labelled Mr Laundrie a “person of interest” in Ms Petito’s disappearance, as he was the last person known to have been with her before she went missing. The grand jury indictment against Mr Laundrie was not related to her death, but rather related to money he allegedly withdrew which “affected interstate commerce”.
After Ms Petito was reported missing, Mr. Laundrie’s lawyer released a statement saying his client would not be speaking to authorities “on the advice of counsel”.
Noord -hawe -polisie, who said Mr Laundrie’s lack of cooperation was “hindering the investigation”, tweeted a direct plea to the lawyer, asking for help.
Mr Laundrie did not speak to police, but instead went missing, and has not been seen since 14 September, despite a couple of reported sightings that proved to be false.
Whilst the warrant allows for his arrest, the facts and circumstances of Ms Petito’s death are still been investigated.
Where is Brian Laundrie thought to be?
The search for Mr Laundrie is largely focused on the Carlton Reserve in Florida, which is close to the Laundrie’s family home in North Port. Mr Laundrie’s parents say he headed to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which connects with the reserve, for a hike on 14 September. He drove there in a silver Mustang, which they later collected and, according to their account, brought only a backpack with him.
Is he a survivalist?
Mr Laundrie told friends and coworkers that he was skilled in outdoor survival, allegedly boasting to a co-worker that he had lived in a forest for weeks on just snacks. He also reportedly told a friend of Ms Petito’s that he spent three months hiking alone in the Appalachians. Egter, experts have said the swampy region they are searching is particularly unforgiving with wild animals and dehydration, both potential dangers.
Who is the Laundrie family?
Mr Laundrie’s father, Christopher Laundrie, 62, and mother Roberta Laundrie, 55, live in North Port, Florida. Mr Laundrie also has a sister, Cassie Laundrie, whose children Mr Laundrie and Ms Petito appear to have been close with.
Ms Laundrie appeared on Good Morning America aan 17 September, saying she had not spoken to her brother since he returned from his trip, but that Ms Petito was “like a sister and my children love her and all I want is for her to come home safe and sound and for this to be a big misunderstanding”.
Mr Laundrie’s parents also appear to have had a close relationship with Ms Petito, as she lived with them for more than a year, as Ms Petito’s mother Nicole Schmidt outlined in an open letter to the Laundries when her daughter was still missing. Roberta Laundrie was a Pinterest “collaborator” on a “Life Goals” Pinterest board created by Ms Petito that showed pictures of newlyweds with backpacks, and posts of baby clothes.
Relationship with Gabby
Mr Laundrie met Ms Petito at Bayport-Blue Point High School on New York’s Long Island, according to Ms Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt. The pair began dating in March 2019 and got engaged in July 2020, according to posts on their Instagram accounts.
Mr Laundrie wrote: “My biggest fear is that one day I’ll wake up and it will have all been a dream, because that is what every second has felt like since the moment we found each other. Till death do us part or until I wake up, I’m so happy the answer was yes, Love you hunny.”
Ms Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt told the Daaglikse pos she believed the couple may have called off their engagement ahead of the trip because they were still so young.
Mr Laundrie presented an idyllic picture of the couple’s relationship on social media, posting pictures of them kissing, and posing for pictures together smiling.
But witness reports described a very different picture of Mr Laundrie’s treatment of his partner. He was allegedly seen slapping and hitting Ms Petito in the Utah town of Moab weeks before she went missing. A 911 call was made by a Moab resident who witnessed the alleged altercation and was concerned enough to report it to authorities.
Police later pulled their van over to find a crying and distressed Ms Petito, and Mr Laundrie with scratches on his face. “We’ve just been fighting this morning. Personal issues,” Ms Petito told police. One officer said in body-camera footage, that they considered Mr Laundrie to be the victim, although not at risk, and no further action was taken.
Mr Laundrie does not appear to have been in full-time employment, but he did earn money selling his artworks online. On a Depop site called Bizarre Design, Mr Laundrie sold his artworks, including bookmarks, print stamps and t-shirts .
Social media presence
Mr Laundrie’s social media accounts show a man presenting himself as outdoorsy, a loving and devoted boyfriend, and an artist with conspiratorial leanings.
On Instagram, he railed against being “brainwashed by the media” and revealed a fondness for pop culture icons such as Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk and the creator of the Hellboy comics, Mike Mignola.
His posts are sprinkled with references to nature, and he showed admiration for film characters like Joaquin Phoenix’s The Joker, violent video games like Hotline Miami, and the book Lullaby by Mr Palahniuk, in which a man investigates the death of his wife and child.