The FBI confirmed that Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old "Van Life" blogger reported missing by her family, died by homicide. The authorities had issued a warrant of arrest for her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, her companion, during a summer cross-country road trip that led to her disappearance and death.
In a statement, the FBI in Denver said that Laundrie would be indicted for unauthorized access to devices relating to his activities after the death of his girlfriend. The arrest warrant will allow the authorities to put Laundrie behind bars as they continue investigating Petito's homicide.
Locating Laundrie is also a priority so he could address this indictment in the right forum. Petito's boyfriend had also disappeared days after returning home solo from the cross-country trip. The FBI had named him as a person of interest in Petito's disappearance and homicide.
Gabby Petito's "Van Life" Blog
In June, Petito and Laundrie started their cross-country trip to visit various national parks from the Laundrie family home in North Port, Florida. The couple had been together for more than a year and stayed with Laundrie's parents. They used Petito's white van for the trip and posted photos and videos of their adventures on social media for her "Van Life" blog.
In July, Petito and Laundrie arrived in Colorado and then Utah, visiting the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (Colorado) and the Mystic Hot Springs (Utah). However, by the time they stayed longer in Utah, disputes between the couple emerged and warranted the intervention of the Utah cops.
The Sheriff's Office in Grand Country released the 911 call of a witness claiming that he saw Laundrie slapping and hitting his girlfriend. This happened sometime on August 12. The police also released photos of the pair as they responded to the report and tried to pacify the domestic dispute.
The couple denied that Laundrie hit Petito, but they admitted they were arguing and that she slapped her boyfriend. The cops talked to the pair separately and advised them to sleep in different rooms to cool down. The authorities assessed the situation as a mental/emotional breakdown but believed no one was in danger of domestic assault.
Days later, on August 19, Petito uploaded the first video for their "Van Life" journey on YouTube. Some of the clips showed the couple as very affectionate towards each other.
On August 24, Utah cops confirmed that they saw Petito checking for hotels in the city. On August 25, Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, whom she was regularly texting and calling during the trip, received what would be her daughter's final call. Schmidt said that her daughter sounded very excited to start the YouTube channel and seemed OK. Petito also made her last post on Instagram on August 25.
Where and When Gabby Petito Disappeared
The FBI believes that Petito might have disappeared somewhere in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming between August 27 to 30. A witness claimed on TikTok that they encountered Laundrie at the Grand Teton National Park on August 29. The witness offered to give Laundrie a ride because he told her that he was camping alone while Petito stayed behind to work on their social media sites.
On September 1, Laundrie returned to Florida using Petito's white van without her. By September 11, Petito's family in Long Island filed a missing person report. Meanwhile, Laundrie and his family said they would speak to the cops and the media only through their lawyers.
On September 17, Laundrie's family said that their son had disappeared. They last saw him on September 14 after he told them that he was going to the Carlton Reserve to camp out. The family refused to say if they had been in touch with him since. The authorities searched the reserve using drones but did not locate Laundrie, now tagged as a person of interest.
On September 19, the FBI confirmed that they found a body in Bridger-Teton National Park "consistent with the description" of the missing young woman. Three days later, the coroner confirmed that it was Petito's body, and she died by homicide.
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