TW: Domestic Violence
While the heavy focus on the case of Gabby Petito is becoming increasingly controversial, it is still unavoidable on any news or social media platform. People are investing themselves into the publicized missing-person-turned-homicide case with new developments nearly every day. The case had even caught the attention and involvement of former reality TV star “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” If you are still confused, caught onto the case late, or simply want to see what everyone is keeping up with, here is a timeline of events involving Gabby Petito’s disappearance and death.
Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie traveled together on a summer cross-country trip using Petito’s car. The couple’s road trip had begun in June 2021. The trip was adventurous, and Petito shared many pictures online of their stops. Petito’s family and friends also stated that contact was kept between them for the majority of the trip until she stopped answering in August.
On August 12, a call to 911 was made in Utah in which a witness reported a physical domestic dispute. The caller noted that as they were driving on the road, a stopped couple was out of the vehicle and pacing around. Then noted that the man (Laundrie) had hit the woman (Petito). Police who arrived on the scene did not believe the situation regarding the couple was enough to be called domestic assault. Alternatively, they had concluded that the altercation had been the result of mental health issues and suggested that the two stay away from each other for the night. They did follow police suggestions but made sure to have their phones to stay in touch and continue their trip after the night apart. The police encounter was recorded via police body cam.
As previously mentioned, Petito was in contact with her family for most of the trip, but the family told police that the last contact they had with her was during the last week of August. From August 24-27 the mother had engaged in a FaceTime call and numerous texts with her daughter. Petito informed her that she and Laundrie would be leaving Utah to go to the Teton range in Wyoming. On August 30, the last text was sent to her family noting there was “No service in Yosemite,” however the family strongly believes this message was not sent from Petito.
A woman, Miranda Baker, came forward publicly via TikTok claiming she had encountered Brian Laundrie hitchhiking in Colter Bay, Wyoming which is the location of the Teton ranges where Petito had informed her family she was going. Baker did report the encounter with police before posting the videos that soon went viral and they find her claims to be reputable. She claims that Laundrie had told her and her boyfriend he needed a ride to Jackson and when he discovered they were heading that direction he joined the car ride. Shortly after he realized they were going to Jackson Hole and not Jackson, he became irritable and angry, asked them to stop, and left on foot. Baker noted that Laundrie had said he was camping alone while his fiancée was working on social media alone in her van. After being dropped off by Baker, another woman, Norma Jean Jalovec, said she picked up Laundrie at the Jackson Lake Dam (where Baker had left him). He informed her that he and his fiancée work together on a travel blog and he was hiking by himself on Snake River for days. She dropped him off at the entrance of Spread Creek. Jalovec provided her encounter to the FBI.
On September 1, Laundrie arrived at the couple’s home alone in North Port, Florida. Laundrie’s parents also reside at that home. The car used for the road trip was discovered at the home as well. On September 11, Petito’s parents officially reported her missing to their hometown police of Suffolk County, New York. When North Port police arrived at Laundire’s home and asked to speak with him and his parents, they were presented with contact information for the family’s attorney. After the family and family attorney for Petito had tried to gain contact with the Laundries and publicly pled for help, Laundrie’s parents asked the North Port police to come to the home. However, this was not for cooperation but rather to report their son, Brian Laundrie, missing. They said he had not been home since September 14, three days after police arrived at their home. September 17, Laundrie was officially declared missing. Not only was a search initiated for Laundrie that day, but the FBI arrived at his home to search the property. On September 18, police started searching for Laundrie among the 80+ miles at the Carlton Reserve in Venice, Florida. The FBI also stated that ground searches at the Teton ranges were being carried out to search for Petito.
Sadly, on September 19, the FBI found a body in Teton County matching Petitot’s description. Later that day, forensic tests confirmed the body was that of Gabby Petito. The next day, the FBI began interviewing Laundrie’s parents and had removed them from the home during a warranted search. On September 23, there was an official arrest warrant issued by the US District Court of Wyoming for Brian Laundrie. The warrant was not related to Gabby’s death as there is no substantial proof he committed the homicide. Instead, the warrant is for “use of unauthorized devices” regarding a debit card being used by him for charges of over $1,000 but not registered to him. The investigation into Petito’s death is ongoing and the arrest warrant for Laundrie is still active, as he has yet to be found.
On October 12, a forensic medical autopsy was publically released regarding Petito’s remains. It was concluded that Petito’s cause of death was strangulation and the body was in that location for three to four weeks prior to the discovery. This puts Petito’s death around late August to early September, which is about the time when she was with Laundrie. With the manhunt for Laundrie still at large on October 20, items identified to be Laundrie’s were found off a trail near his parents’ home. The Carlton Reserve where the items were found has been closed to the public since the discovery and an FBI response team is present, along with a Sarasota County medical examiner and cadaver dog. The medical examiner is likely there to identify and investigate what appears as partial human remains found close to the identified Laundrie items. There is no confirmation as to who the remains belong to or how long they may have been there.
NOTE: While the world may not know exactly what happened with the couple behind closed doors, the August 12 police call indicates there may have been a history of domestic violence or abuse. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there is help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers options for calling, live online chat, or text 24/7 for those in need of help.