The case that has gripped the entire nation: a young woman goes on a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, but only one of them returns. Here is everything you need to know about the Gabby Petito case.
Petito, 22, embarked on a cross-country road trip in her van with her boyfriend, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie on July 2, departing from Blue Point, New York. The couple were traveling in Petito’s 2012 Ford Transit van.
The young couple had converted the van into a camper, with Petito documenting their trip on YouTube and Instagram. While videos and pictures posted to both YouTube and Instagram appeared to show a young, happy couple enjoying their travels, things soon turned grim in August after police had an encounter with the couple for a domestic dispute.
The Moab City Police Department released bodycam footage recently of an Aug. 12 interaction with Petito and Laundrie showing an emotionally distraught Petito and a relatively calm Laundrie.
The footage shows an officer pulling over the van over after police received a call about a domestic altercation. As the officer approaches the van, Petito is seen crying hysterically in the passenger seat, profusely apologizing. Petito told the officer she was going through “personal issues” while Laundrie said they had a long day of camping. Petito then explained to an officer how Laundrie refused to let her back in the van because he thought she needed to calm down, with Laundrie telling an officer he pushed Petito away several times.
Petito later told an officer Laundrie “didn’t hit me” but he grabbed her face hard.
Authorities listed Petito as the suspect and Laundrie was listed as the victim. Neither Petito nor Laundrie was charged, however, and authorities struck a deal that the couple would remain split for the night.
Audio from a 911 call obtained exclusively by Fox describes the incident in which the caller identified a couple traveling in a white van with Florida license plates having a domestic dispute on the side of the road. (RELATED: Dead Body Found In Stairwell Of Government Building A Month After Man Disappeared)
The caller describes how Laundrie was “slapping” Petito before the duo “ran” up and down the sidewalk, where Laundrie proceeded to hit Petito again.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 20, 2021
Following the incident, Petito was last seen Aug. 24 checking out of the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Salt Lake City, Utah. Petito’s mother said she Facetimed her daughter around the same time, and Petito posted her final Instagram picture the following day.
Petito told her mother the couple was headed to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Petito is believed to have visited the park Aug. 27, Fox News reported.
Miranda Baker posted a series of videos to TikTok explaining how she and her boyfriend picked up Laundrie Aug. 29 as he was hitchhiking in Grand Teton National Park and gave him a ride.
“He told my boyfriend and I he was doing a cross country road trip, and his fiancé was back at their van at the first campsite working on their social media,” Baker said, noting Laundrie appeared clean for someone who claimed to have been hiking for several days and lacked camping items like “food.”
Petito’s mother reported her missing Sep. 11, however, after she hadn’t heard from her daughter. Laundrie had returned home to North Port, Florida Sept. 1 in the van alone and immediately hired a lawyer.
Authorities subsequently announced Laundrie was a person of interest, though he refused to cooperate with police nor provide any information.
“The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said at the time.
Latest on Petito case Wednesday September 15, 11:30am. Please use 1-800 CALLFBI pic.twitter.com/NpkUEjoME5
— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 15, 2021
“We are writing this letter to ask you to help find our daughter. We understand you are going through a difficult time and your instinct is strong to protect your son,” the letter read.
“We haven’t been able to eat or sleep. Our lives are falling apart.”
“As a parent, how could you let us go through this pain and not help us?” the letter reportedly continued. “If you or your family have any decency left, please tell us where Gabby is located.”
A YouTuber then realized they had maybe passed Petito’s van in Grand Teton National Park just two days after Petito was last heard from.
“We came across a white van that had Florida plates,” Jenn Bethune said in a video posted to YouTube. “A small white van. We were going to stop and say hi because we’re from Florida too, but the van was completely dark. There was nobody there, so we decided to continue on our way.”
Bethune said she and her husband thought the van was “abandoned” when they saw it around 6 or 6:30 p.m., and later saw the van parked in the same location when they traveled back down the road.
Authorities announced Sunday they found a body in Grand Teton National Park matching the description of Petito. The body has not yet been 100% positively identified, but authorities said the body was “consistent with the description of Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito.” Petito’s family was notified of the discovery. The cause of death has not yet been determined and an autopsy will take place Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Laundrie has not been seen since Tuesday, with his parents reporting him missing Friday. The FBI swarmed the home of Laundrie on Monday and declared the home a crime scene just hours after local police said they would not continue searching the Carlton Reserve for Laundrie.
#UPDATE: The #FBI is executing a court-authorized search warrant today at the Laundrie residence in North Port, FL relevant to the Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito investigation. No further details can be provided since this is an active and ongoing investigation. @FBIDenver pic.twitter.com/uxrtVNIZ4u
— FBI Tampa (@FBITampa) September 20, 2021
The Tampa bureau confirmed the FBI was “executing a court-authorized search warrant” but did not provide further details.