Gabby Petito Investigation: New Details Emerge In Manhunt For Fugitive Brian Laundrie

“He's somewhere where he's probably being taken care of,” a former FBI agent says.

October 12, 2021
Gabby Petito smiling wearing a white baseball cap and a jean jacket

Gabby Petito

Photo by: Instagram


Gabby Petito

By: Aaron Rasmussen

Authorities continue the manhunt for Brian Laundrie, the 23-year-old who is a person of interest in the death of his fiancée, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, 22. Laundrie returned alone to his home in North Port, Florida, from the couple’s cross-country trip on September 1 and disappeared into thin air on September 13 — six days before searchers located Petito’s body in the Wyoming wilderness. Laundrie is currently wanted on a federal arrest warrant for a bank fraud charge for allegedly withdrawing or spending over $1,000 from two accounts after Petito went missing. Ahead are six recent updates in the case.

A Wyoming coroner reveals Petito’s autopsy results.

On October 12, Teton County Coroner Brent Blue said at a news conference Petito’s death was determined to be a homicide by strangulation, but he did not reveal additional details. “By Wyoming state statute, only the cause and manner of death are released,” Blue explained.

More details emerge about Laundrie’s last days before he disappeared.

Cassie Laundrie recently told ABC News her brother and their parents stopped by her home the day he returned to Florida, and she last saw him on September 6 when the family spent time together at Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County. “We just went for a couple of hours and we ate dinner and had s'mores around the campfire and left, and there was nothing peculiar about it,” she said. “There was no feeling of grand goodbye. There was no nothing. I'm frustrated that, in hindsight, I didn't pick up on anything. It was just a regular visit.” Laundrie insisted she would turn her brother in if she knew where he was. “I hope my brother is alive because I want answers just as much as everybody else,” she said.

Could someone be helping Laundrie while he’s on the lam?

One former FBI agent who searched for Olympic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph in the mountains of North Carolina in the late-1990s suggested Laundrie may be hiding within his “comfort zone.” “Clearly, he's not out in some camp or some cave somewhere on the hard, cold ground or … snake-, gator-infested water. He's somewhere where he's probably being taken care of,” Terry Turchie told Fox News. "When you see how he came running home after something obviously happened, that kind of tells you what he's probably doing now.” Cassie Laundrie seemed to bolster the theory in her ABC interview, calling her brother “a mediocre survivalist.”

The FBI continues to receive reports of Laundrie sightings.

The search for Laundrie has been focused on the nearly 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County, Florida, but the FBI continues to field tips and reports of sightings across the region. Dennis Davis, an engineer from Florida, said he was driving on a deserted road near the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina when a person driving a pickup truck he had “no doubt” was Laundrie flagged him down. “He said, ‘Man, I’m lost.’ I said, ‘What are you trying to find?’ and he said, ‘Me and my girlfriend got in a fight but she called me, told me she loves me, and I have to get to California to see her,” Davis, 53, told the New York Post about the October 2 incident. The man, Davis added, “was worried and not making sense.”

Petito’s loved ones express their frustration but are trying to help others.

In an October 8 interview with Fox News, Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, urged Laundrie to turn himself in, saying she doesn’t understand “what’s taking so long.” Joe Schmidt, her husband and Petito’s stepfather, called the fugitive “our missing piece to the puzzle to find out what happened.” Loved ones, meanwhile, have established the Gabby Petito Foundation in hopes of helping other families grappling with missing person cases. “We’re trying to make a difference and trying to make sense of it,” Joe Petito said of the foundation in his daughter’s name. “We’re trying to focus on that to make sure there’s some good that comes from this.”

Officer says there’s “a lot of oddness” surrounding the case.

Brian Laundrie’s parents continue to face scrutiny over how they handled his disappearance. North Port police are also raising questions about new developments in the case, including Chris and Roberta Laundrie revealing they now believe they last saw their son on September 13 — a day earlier than they initially reported to investigators. “I don’t know necessarily what to believe anymore,” officer Josh Taylor told NewsNationNow. “It’s certainly possible that they’re expressing what they know. But we’ll see.” He added, “We've said from the beginning there's a lot of oddness here, a lot of things that just didn't make sense.”

Join us for a breaking new special on Wednesday, October 13 at 9/8c -- GABBY PETITO: ID SPECIAL REPORT. John Walsh and true crime experts will discuss Gabby’s tragic story and the reality of domestic violence.