Gabby Petito update: Everything known about her death, search for Brian Laundrie

Gabby Petito is pictured in provided, undated images. (Photo credit: North Port Police Department)

Authorities from agencies across the country joined efforts to search for Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, a 22-year-old woman who disappeared during a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend. She was eventually found dead near a campground at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Petito hadn’t been seen or heard from since the end of August. Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11 after her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, returned home to Florida in their converted camper van without her. 

On Sept. 19, the FBI announced that a body had been found in Wyoming and that investigators believed it was Petito’s. The body was found as investigators searched the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area of Grand Teton National Park.

After her body was found, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said an initial autopsy revealed that the cause of death was homicide. On Oct. 12, he said a final autopsy revealed Petito’s cause of death was strangulation and confirmed the manner of death was homicide. He said he couldn’t elaborate on what led him to conclude that she died from strangulation. 

Blue said the autopsy was thorough but he couldn’t comment further on the investigation. He said he believes Petito’s body was in the wilderness for three to four weeks before being discovered but he couldn’t provide an exact date of death.

RELATED: Gabby Petito update: Body found in Wyoming believed to be missing woman

 Meanwhile, Laundrie has not cooperated with police and is considered a person of interest in the case. The FBI has been searching for him since his parents disclosed that he hasn’t been seen since Sept. 14, authorities say. 

Authorities found Laundrie’s backpack and notebook on Oct. 20 at a park in Sarasota County. They also found what appeared to be human remains but couldn’t identify them, saying it could take days to process the potential evidence. 

RELATED: Gabby Petito disappearance: Van found at boyfriend's North Port family home

Here are all the details that are known so far about Petito and her disappearance, death and autopsy. 

Gabby and Brian’s cross-country trip

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie set out on their journey in July from New York, after first driving up from Florida, saying on social media accounts they intended to reach Oregon by Halloween.

Their plan was to travel the West Coast and western national parks. 

In a video later posted to YouTube, the pair said after taking another cross-country trip, they "both decided we wanted to downsize our lives and travel full time."

V-MISSING-GABBY-5A_WTVT9571_186.mp4_.00_01_18_50.Still005.jpg

The camper van

Petito and Laundrie were traveling in a converted 2012 white Ford Transit van.

The pair wrote on YouTube that, after taking their first cross-country trip in a "little Nissan Sentra," they wanted more space for their next trip. 

"That's why we handcrafted our own tiny van, a simple 2012 Ford transit connect, utilizing space with unique designs and features. Creating a space for both artistic expression and distance hiking," they wrote.

Petito can be seen preparing food in the back of the van in part of their debut — and only — video on their YouTube channel, Nomadic Statik: "VAN LIFE | Beginning Our Van Life Journey."

"I love the van," she says near the end of the video as the camera pans to the white Ford parked in the Utah desert.

Gabby Petito’s Instagram

In addition to the YouTube channel, Petito had been chronicling their trip on her personal Instagram account, @gabspetito.

Posts from their cross-country trip appear to begin in early July from Kansas, where she posted from Monument Rocks on July 4.

She then posts from Colorado at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve a week later, followed by posts from Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.

Her post on Aug, 12 in Arches National Park was her last post with a tagged location. 

Petito posted two more times after that, on Aug. 19 and Aug. 25. Her last post is of her standing in front of a mural wall with monarch butterflies. 

Her Instagram bio says she is "along for the ride" and is "traveling the world in our tiny van." It says she’s into art, yoga and veggies. 

RELATED: Missing woman's haunting songs on Spotify account may provide answers

Police incident on Aug. 12

On August 12, 2021, Petito and Laundrie got into some type of altercation near Moab, Utah outside the Moonflower Community Cooperative.

One witness called 911 reporting a "domestic dispute" between the couple, according to audio obtained by FOX News. The caller can be heard telling a dispatcher that "the gentleman was slapping the girl."

"He was slapping her?" the dispatcher was heard asking.

"Yes, and then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off," the caller added.

The 911 call seemed to contradict a report written by police, in which a responding officer spoke to a bystander outside the Moonflower Community Cooperative. The witness, identified as "Chris," told police he saw the pair apparently arguing over a phone, according to the report. Laundrie got into the van and Petito struck him on the arm, the witness told police. 

Petito then climbed through the driver’s side window as if Laundrie "had locked her out and she was trying to find a way in," the report stated.

In the police report, officers said they later spotted the van and pulled the couple over near the entrance to Arches National Park. They saw Petito crying uncontrollably in the passenger seat, who told officers that she was struggling with her mental health.

"At no point in my investigation did Gabrielle stop crying, breathing heavily, or compose a sentence without needing to wipe away tears, wipe her nose, or rub her knees with her hands," Officer Daniel Robbins said in his report.

RELATED: Report: Utah police called to 'incident' involving Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie 2 weeks before missing report

Laundrie reportedly told Robbins that emotional tension had been building between him and Petito and that they were arguing more frequently because they had been traveling together for four to five months.

Laundrie said that when the two of them began arguing in town, he had attempted to separate from Petito so they could calm down. Laundrie said he got into the van but Petito was afraid he would leave without her, so she went to slap him and he pushed her away to avoid the blow, according to the police report.

Officers recommended that the couple spend the night apart but didn’t file any charges after investigating.

RELATED: Utah police report shows possible mental health concerns, tension between Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie

The police report, body cam video and 911 call have all been released following the interaction. 

Double-homicide in Utah

Several days after the Aug. 12 altercation between Petito and Laundrie, an employee of the Moonflower Community Cooperative and another woman were found shot to death at a nearby campground. 

The two women killed, newlyweds Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, had told friends they feared a "creepy man" they had seen nearby might harm them before their bodies were found Aug. 18.

Police in Utah were investigating any connection between the double homicide and Petito’s disappearance, but on Sept. 17 said the two were unrelated.

RELATED: Gabby Petito: Utah sheriff says missing woman case 'not related' to double murder

When did Gabby Petito go missing?

Near the end of August, Petito’s regular contact with her family stopped. Her mother, Nicole Schmidt, said they had been Facetiming, calling and texting several times a week throughout their trip. 

The last confirmed sighting of Petito was when she checked out of the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Aug. 24 in Salt Lake City, according to reports.

Petito’s mother said she last saw her daughter over Facetime around the same time that Petito and Laundrie were believed to have left Utah for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Petito’s mother said Aug. 25 was the last date she spoke to her daughter on the phone.

Aug. 25 was also the day Petito’s last Instagram post was published, though from an untagged location.

"I don't know if she left Grand Teton or not," Schmidt later told FOX News. "I did receive a text from her on the 27th and the 30th, but I don't know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text. I didn't verbally speak to her."

Schmidt said in a later news conference that at first when she wasn’t getting responses from Petito, she assumed she was in a place with no service. 

"It was day eight, nine that I really became concerned," she said. 

RELATED: Gabby Petito disappearance: Boyfriend 'refusing to tell Gabby's family where he last saw her'

brian-laundrie-gabby-petito-1.jpeg

(North Port Police Department)

Missing person’s report

On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to the home in North Port, Florida, where he lived with Petito and his parents. He returned — alone — with the camper van. 

Ten days later, Petito’s family reported the 22-year-old missing to the Suffolk County Police Department in New York at approximately 6:55 p.m. Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts in Suffolk County. The North Port Police Department has since become the lead agency in the case. 

On the day the missing person’s report was filed, Laundrie declined to speak with investigators and instead provided information to a family attorney. The van was impounded by investigators and processed for clues.

Several days later, the FBI also processed the van.

On Sept. 15, Laundrie was named a "person of interest" in the case and authorities announced he was not cooperating with the investigation or making himself available to provide "helpful details."

RELATED: 'We beg you to tell us': Attorney accuses Laundrie family of withholding Gabby Petito's location

TikToker says she saw Laundrie

Police in North Port confirmed to FOX News on Sept. 18 that they had spoken with a woman who said she saw Laundrie on Aug. 29, several days after Petito was last seen or heard from, and that she gave him a ride. 

This woman, Miranda Baker, posted several videos on TikTok detailing her interaction with Laundrie

She said that she and her boyfriend picked up Laundrie at 5:30 p.m. local time that day after spotting him on the side of the road in Grand Teton National Park. Baker claimed that Laundrie offered the couple $200 to drive him some 10 miles down the road.

"That was kind of weird," Baker said in the TikTok video, noting that Laundrie did mention his fiancé.

RELATED: Gabby Petito: Police speak with TikTok user who claimed to give boyfriend Laundrie a ride

When Baker said they were headed to Jackson, she said that Laundrie "freaked out" and demanded they drop him off immediately.

"He kind of hurried out of the car, and then was like ‘I’m going to find someone else to hitchhike,’ and we’re like, okay," Baker said. "It was a weird situation."

Baker highlighted that despite claiming that he had been camping for days, Laundrie did not appear dirty and seemed to have little in his backpack. In subsequent videos, Baker went into a deep analysis of the timeline and locations of her encounter with Laundrie, including exactly where she picked him up and dropped him off.

She also noted that Laundrie told her that he and Petito had been camping at an unregulated campsite and had slept on a tarp during that time.

"I’m just really hoping that they find her," Baker adds before ending the video.

Who is investigating?

Petito’s disappearance was first reported to the Suffolk County Police Department, where Petito’s father lives. 

"I was living in New York and they were down in Florida, so, (I didn’t know Laundrie) as well as I would’ve liked to, but there still weren’t any red flags that would indicate this would be, we would be here today," Joe Petito said. "My daughter is not here, our daughter is not here, we don’t even know where she is, what state she’s in, we’re shooting from the hip here trying to do what we can."

The North Port Police Department in Florida has since taken over the case. North Port is where Laundrie and Petito were living with Laundrie’s parents. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also aiding and has issued a missing person’s alert for Petito

As of Saturday, Sept. 18, the FBI and area agencies were conducting a search for Petito in Grand Teton National Park

The search location signals that investigators are working on the assumption that Petito might still be in the location where she told her family she was last headed.

RELATED: Gabby Petito case: Timeline of 22-year-old woman's disappearance

Brian Laundrie missing

On Sept. 17, North Port police said they were speaking with the Laundrie family at their home at their request. Later that evening, police confirmed Brian Laundrie wasn’t there. Police said his family told them Laundrie hadn’t been seen since Sept. 14. 

Dozens of police officers, FBI agents and others from area agencies searched a vast wildlife reserve for the 23-year-old over the next couple of days. 

"His family says they believe he entered the area earlier this week," North Port Police tweeted on Sept. 18.

Investigators were hopeful that Laundrie was somewhere in the more than 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve. Depending on his skills, he could survive out in the reserve for some time, police spokesperson Josh Taylor said at a news conference.

On Sept. 20, North Port police briefly ended their search of Carlton Reserve after having "exhausted all avenues in searching of the grounds there." But the next day, investigators resumed the search on the Venice side of the 25,000-acre park.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie's parents 'do not know where Brian is,' family lawyer says

On Sept. 27, Laundrie’s parents said they do not know where their son is.

The lawyer for Chris and Roberta Laundrie released a statement, possibly in an effort to quell claims they may have somehow helped their son disappear.

Attorney Steven Bertolino said in the statement, "Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him. The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong."

On Oct. 5, Bertolino explained why Brian returned to Florida without Gabby after their trip out west.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie's family says this is why he went to Florida without Gabby Petito

He released the explanation to FOX 5 New York on Oct. 5, saying, "Brian flew home to Tampa from SLC on 08/17 and returned to SLC on 08/23 to rejoin Gabby. To my knowledge, Brian and Gabby paid for the flights as they were sharing expenses. Brian flew home to obtain some items and empty and close the storage unit to save money as they contemplated extending the road trip."

RELATED: Laundrie attorney confirms Brian left to hike preserve day earlier than parents previously claimed

The statement did not explain anything that happened after Aug. 23.

The family attorney also confirmed to FOX 13 Tampa Bay that authorities believe Brian left to hike a Florida reserve on Sept. 13 after confirming that his Mustang was spotted at the Laundrie residence on Sept. 15. 

On Oct. 6, Bertolino told FOX News that Chris Laundrie was asked to help in the search. The next day, Chris Laundrie arrived with law enforcement to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port — which is adjacent to the Carlton Reserve.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie's dad arrives in North Port park after authorities request his help in search for son

On Oct. 20, a backpack and notebook belonging to Laundrie were found at Florida's Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. FOX News first reported the discovery, saying an officer apparently told his parents that law enforcement "might have found something." FOX News Digital also reported the coroner shortly arrived afterwards. Bertolino confirmed to FOX News Digital that Laundrie's parents informed law enforcement the previous night of their intentions to search the park and met officers there.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie search: Body found in North Port preserve

Authorities then held a news conference later that day saying they found what appears to be human remains in the same park but didn't identify them, saying it could take several days to process the potential evidence. They also said the notebook and backpack were found in an area that had previously been underwater, which delayed their discovery. 

YouTubers spot van in dash footage

e083cdc8-df34fb81-possible-amper-van.jpg

Screenshot provided by Red White and Bethune

A video uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 19 by travelers who were in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park appears to show the couple’s white van parked in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area on Aug. 27. 

"We were editing our sunday video, tonight and we were looking at footage from on August 27th, 2021 around 6:00pm to 6:30pm in Spread Creek Dispersed Camping," the caption reads on YouTube. "We had passed by a white van with Florida Plates. We noticed it because we are originally from Florida and wanted to stop and say hi."

The video, uploaded by the Florida-based Bethune family on their account Red White & Bethune, circulated around social media. Petito’s family posted about the video hours after it was uploaded, saying they believe this was the same van and that the FBI was aware of the video. 

Later that day, the FBI found remains nearby that matched Petito's description.

"Relief just washed over me cause I could give this to their parents, to Gabby’s parents and say, ‘Hey, here’s the van. Go do whatever you need to do,’" Jenn Bethune later told FOX 13 News. "I was just so happy that we got that on camera and we were able to give that to them."

RELATED: Gabby Petito’s possible remains found near where Tampa family spotted camper van

Body found in Wyoming

Hours after the YouTube video was shared appearing to show the couple’s van in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area near the edge of the Grand Teton National Park, the FBI also announced on Sept. 19 that a body had been found in the same area.

Charles Jones, supervisory senior resident agent for FBI Denver, said human remains found were "consistent with the description" of Petito but that a full forensic ID was still pending. Specifics on where and how the body was found were not disclosed.

The last known place Petito and Laundrie were publicly known to be was leaving Utah on Aug. 24 and they told the family they were heading to Grand Teton National Park. 

Following the discovery of the body, Petito’s family shared a statement asking for space to grieve and thanking the various police agencies for their "tireless work" in the case.

RELATED: Rainbow appears where authorities discovered body believed to be Gabby Petito

FBI searches Laundrie home

FBI agents executed a search warrant on Sept. 20, the day after human remains were found in Wyoming, at the Laundrie home in North Port related to the Petito case. The agency said in a statement that it would provide no further details amid the "active and ongoing investigation."

Authorities announced a "search warrant" twice before removing Chris and Roberta Laundrie from their residence and placing them in a van on their lawn, according to FOX News. Police also cordoned off the area and cleared the street a minute before the FBI arrived, telling people "you’re in a crime scene."

Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, originally scheduled a press conference on Sept. 21 following the execution of the search warrant. But their attorney later canceled the press conference following a conversation with the FBI, according to FOX 5 New York. Details of the conversation were not released.

RELATED: FBI confirms Gabby Petito's remains found in Wyoming; manner of death 'homicide' 

Remains found in Wyoming belong to Gabby Petito

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed on Sept. 21 that the remains discovered in the Bridger-Teton National Forest are that of Gabby Petito and that his "initial determination" of her manner of death is homicide, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Denver Division.

"Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999," the FBI wrote on Twitter.

RELATED: Gabby Petito autopsy: FBI says 'initial determination' of manner of death is homicide

Blue initially determined the manner of death a homicide, but Petito’s cause of death is pending following final autopsy results, according to the FBI.

The FBI also released a statement: "The FBI’s commitment to justice is at the forefront of each and every investigation," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. "The FBI and our partners remain dedicated to ensuring anyone responsible for or complicit in Ms. Petito’s death is held accountable for their actions."

Gabby Petito autopsy results

Blue initially determined the manner of death a homicide. On Oct. 12, he said that Petito’s death was due to strangulation and confirmed the manner of death was homicide. Blue said he believes Petito’s body was in the wilderness for three to four weeks before being discovered but he couldn’t provide an exact date of death.

"Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy," Bertolino in response to the autopsy. "While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise."

"At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him," he continued. 
 

FBI issues arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie

As the search for Brian Laundrie at Florida’s Carlton Reserve entered its fifth day, the 23-year-old was indicted by a grand jury on charges "related to Mr. Laundrie’s activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito," specifically his "unauthorized" use of a debit card in the wake of Petito’s death, according the the FBI’s Denver division.

The FBI released the indictment documents tied to the arrest warrant citing alleged "‘Use of Unauthorized Access Devices’ related to Mr. Laundrie’s activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito."

According to the indictment handed down by a grand jury, "From on or about August 30, 2021, through and including on or about September 1, 2021, in the District of Wyoming and elsewhere, the Defendant, Brian Christopher Laundrie, knowingly and with intent to defraud, used one or more unauthorized access devices, namely a Capitol One Bank debit card ending in 8774 and a personal identification number for Capitol One Bank accounts ending in 0525 and 8665, and by such conduct obtained things of value aggregating to $1,000 or more during that period, which affected interstate commerce."

The FBI urged anyone with information about Laundrie to come forward.

"While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito's homicide," The FBI said in a statement. "We urge individuals with knowledge of Mr. Laundrie's role in this matter or his current whereabouts to contact the FBI."

Shortly before the FBI's announcement, a North Port law firm announced it would offer $20,000 for information leading to Laundrie's location.

Gabby Petito funeral service

Family, friends, co-workers and even complete strangers gathered at the Maloney Funeral Home on Sept. 26 to pay their respects to Gabby Petito.

Gabby’s father, Joseph Petito, stood in front of the crowd and cameras with Gabby's stepfather Jim Schmidt by his side and urged mourners not to be sad.

"I don't want you guys to be sad, to be honest with you," he said. "Gabby did not live that way."

Schmidt remembered Gabby for loving life and being an example for "all of us to live by." He encouraged "people to enjoy every moment in this beautiful world."

RELATED: Gabby Petito: Funeral service held for slain 22-year-old

Two fire trucks were positioned one on either side of the funeral home, each with its ladder extended, and a line of firefighters was seen filing into the building. Across the street, a chain link fence was adorned with posters featuring Petito's image and messages such as, "She touched the world."

Mourners were greeted with a placard bearing a poem titled "Let it Be" that began with the line, "Do not grieve for me for I am free." Dozens of floral arrangements and childhood photos of Gabby lined the walls.

Because the FBI has not released Gabby's body to the Petito family, an empty urn was used for the service. The FBI has not indicated when they will release the body.

New bodycam footage reveals Gabby’s fiancé hit her

Gabby Petito told a Utah police officer that Brian Laundrie hit her on Aug. 12, according to newly released bodycam video from a second Moab officer who arrived at the scene.

Meanwhile, Laundrie said he "didn’t have time" to defend himself from allegations he’d struck his fiancé.

"I pushed her away," he tells the officer. "She gets really worked up, and when she does she swings and she had her cell phone in her hand. So I was just trying to push her away."

The Aug. 12 911 call – first reported by Fox News Digital earlier this month – illustrated what experts have flagged as a potentially abusive relationship between Petito and Laundrie. Fox News previously obtained a different officer’s bodycam video, but it appears that the police did separate interviews.

"He didn't like hit me in the face," Petito said. "He didn't like punch me in the face or anything."

"Did he slap your face, or what?" the officer asked.

"Well he like, grabbed me with his nail, and I guess that's why it looks, I definitely have a cut right here," she said, rubbing her cheek. "I can feel it, when I touch it it burns."

The second video, obtained through public records requests from Fox News and FOX 13 Utah, reveals more details about the encounter just weeks before Petito was last seen alive in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

"He got really frustrated with me, and he locked me out of the car and told me to go take a breather, but I didn’t want to take a breather," Petito says in the new video. "And I wanted to get going. We’re out of water."

Laundrie’s alleged mistreatment of Petito parallels patterns of domestic abuse, numerous experts have told Fox News. And her reaction to the police presence – on the verge of tears and blaming herself the entire time – could be the signs of a victim being manipulated by her abuser.

The city of Moab announced an independent investigation into its police department's handling of the stop earlier this month. State authorities told Fox News this week that they are not involved in that probe.

____

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.