(Trends Wide) — The FBI is asking for the public’s help in finding Gabby Petito’s fiancé, Brian Laundrie, after a coroner initially determined that Petito died of homicide.
Petito’s remains were found Sunday in a camping area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the eastern edge of Grand Teton National Park, authorities said. Her family first reported her missing on September 11, after Laundrie returned home from the road trip without her on September 1.
In a series of videos on TikTok, a woman said that she and her boyfriend gave Laundrie a ride on Aug. 29 in Wyoming, and that she claimed he was camping alone for several days while Petito was back in his truck working on posts. on social media.
Miranda Baker said Laundrie was picked up while hitchhiking in Colter Bay, Wyoming, which is not far from where Petito’s remains were found. He offered to pay $ 200 for the ride before he even got in the car, he said.
The FBI said the agency wants information from anyone who had contact with Petito or Laundrie or who visited the dispersed camping area of Spread Creek in the Bridger-Teton National Forest between August 27 and 30 or who saw your vehicle.
In the days since she was reported missing, Petito’s story has become a national obsession for many, prompting digital detectives to search the couple’s online trail to try to solve the case. History has also further highlighted the tens of thousands of missing persons stories that do not arouse such intense interest; there were nearly 90,000 active missing persons cases at the end of 2020, according to the National Crime Information Center.
The Petito family’s attorney, Richard Benson Stafford, in a statement obtained by Trends Wide affiliate KSL, said the family needed time to cry and that they will issue a statement “when Gabby is home.”
Police Say Claim In TikTok Videos Is Plausible
Baker, in her TikTok videos, said that when Laundrie found out that she and her boyfriend were going to Jackson Hole instead of Jackson, he became agitated, asked for the vehicle to stop, and got off near the Jackson Dam. She said they left it there less than 30 minutes after picking it up.
Baker said he has spoken to police about the interaction with Laundrie.
North Port Police confirmed to Trends Wide that Baker spoke with the department before posting the videos on TikTok.
“It appears his account is plausible,” North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor said.
Trends Wide has not been able to independently verify Baker’s claims. The FBI has not responded to requests for comment from Trends Wide.
The search for Laundrie continued Tuesday at a Florida nature preserve where his parents reportedly said he indicated he would go last week.
Laundrie’s parents told investigators that he left his North Port home with a backpack on Sept. 14 to go to the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve near Venice.
“A weekend ground search and aerial search Monday of the 25,000-acre (10,000-hectare) reserve has yet to provide any response, but we must move on,” North Port police said on Facebook. Police said the search was conducted in a different part of the reservation on Tuesday.
It concluded Tuesday night around sunset and will resume on Wednesday, they said.
Before his parents told police Laundrie left the home on Sept. 14, he had refused to speak to investigators and the family had directed them to his attorney, police said.
Authorities also searched the family’s home. On Monday, FBI agents removed several items and a Ford Mustang convertible was towed away.
What we know about the rising tension
Evidence has also emerged suggesting that tension was building between the couple.
A man who saw the domestic dispute between Petito and Laundrie in Utah last month said: “They were talking aggressively to each other and something seemed wrong.”
In a handwritten affidavit, the witness named Chris, whose last name was edited in the document provided by the Moab city police to Trends Wide, said the two appeared to be arguing over control of Petito’s phone. “At one point, she was punching him in the arm and / or in the face and trying to get into the truck.”
The witness said he heard Petito say, “Why do you have to be so bad?” although Chris added that he couldn’t be sure if the comment should be taken seriously. Moab City Police responded to the incident and the couple agreed to spend the night apart.
There is also a 911 recording of the incident in Moab on August 12 when police confronted the couple.
On the Grand County Sheriff’s Office recording, a caller reported what he called a “domestic dispute” between a couple.
“We drove by and the gentleman slapped the girl,” says the caller. “Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, got in the car, and drove off.”
Before Petito disappeared, his conversations with his mother appeared to reveal that he had “more and more tension” with Laundrie, according to a police affidavit for a search warrant for an external hard drive found in the couple’s truck.
Petito sent several text messages and had many conversations with his mother during their trip, Florida police wrote in a request filed last week.
On August 27, Petito’s mother received one last communication from her daughter, calling it a “strange text message,” the affidavit says.
The message read, “Can you help Stan? I keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.” Because the text message referred to Petito’s grandfather as Stan, his mother was concerned that something was wrong, the order says.
After that text message, Petito’s phone was no longer operating and he stopped posting on social media about his trip, the order says.
One more text message arrived on August 30 that read, “No service in Yosemite,” but her family doubts she wrote it.
Trends Wide’s Jason Hanna, Steve Almasy, Leyla Santiago, Gregory Lemos, Rebekah Riess, Eric Levenson, Jennifer Henderson, and Andy Rose contributed to this report.