On Monday, September 20 a body was discovered within a campsite area in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. In a press conference shortly after, FBI official, Charles Jones, confirmed that the "human remains discovered were consistent with the description of Gabby Petito." What began as a missing persons case has escalated into a harrowing investigation into the death of a young woman.
Known to her 800k+ followers and loved ones as "Gabby", 22-year-old travel blogger, Gabrielle Petito, was reported as missing to the police by her family on September 11. Of course, any disappearance warrants our attention, but those following the Gabby Petito case will immediately register that the circumstances around her death are murky at best. As she was an influencer, it's jarring and somewhat difficult to reconcile Gabby's frequent sunny and aspirational Instagram posts with this devastating reality.
Here's everything we know so far about Gabby Petito's untimely death; from the current investigation to the events leading up to the filed missing person's report.
Where was Gabby Petito last seen?
After quitting her job and setting out on a road trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, in July, Gabby Petito embraced the nomadic #VanLife, with a goal to travel from Long Island and arrive in Oregon by late October, all in their Ford Transit van. Along the way, Gabby and her fiancé planned to stop through national parks in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to hike and camp. And they did. Her Instagram grid is a trove of breathtaking vistas; from canyons and sand dunes to lakes and rock formations. A love letter to the great outdoors.
Part way through the couples trip on August 12, local authorities from Moab Police Department pulled Petito and Laundrie over in Utah after their van had veered off course and hit a bump on the side of the road. When the police approached the van they found Petito in tears and Laundrie with scratch marks on his face. According to a video recorded on the officers body camera, the two admitted to having an argument and blamed it on being in close quarters for extended periods.
Gabby kept in touch with her parents throughout her travels. The last message her mother received was a text simply stating, "No service in Yosemite," - indicating that she wouldn't be in contact for some time. The Petito's family lawyer, Rick Stafford, said the family didn't believe that message came from Gabby; Yosemite is a national park in California, two states further than where Gabby was believed to be at the time.
"Two people left on a trip and one person returned"
Then two days after Gabby's mother received that message, on September 1, Brian Laundrie returned home to Florida. Without Gabby. Naturally, the Petito family were concerned and Stafford tried to get in contact with Laundrie regarding Gabby's whereabouts. Both Brian and his family refused to answer their questions and stayed silent. When Brian was approached by police, he refused to cooperate and instead called for a lawyer. On Twitter, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said, "Two people left on a trip and one person returned!"
Who are the police investigating?
A few days later, the Laundrie family contacted the police. However, only to report that their son had gone missing. As it stands there is a widespread search in Carlton Reserve, Florida for Laundrie. Laundrie's family told police that he departed the family home with his backpack on Tuesday September 14, telling them he was going to the reserve, said a spokesperson for North Port police.
On Monday September 21, FBI agents searched the property of the Laundrie's Florida home, after securing a warrant, and declared it "a crime scene". Their findings are yet to be released. But a truck was spotted towing away Brian's silver mustang, which police claim Brian's parents picked up from Carlton Reserve where Brian left it before he allegedly went hiking.
Now that Gabby's body has been found, her fiancé is a crucial link to help further the police's investigation. Especially as an autopsy on Tuesday with Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue ruled the cause of death a homicide. A federal arrest warrant was issued by the FBI for Brian on September 23, for his use of "unauthorised devices" reported CNN.
On September 22, 2021, the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Brian Christopher Laundrie pursuant to a Federal Grand Jury indictment related to Mr. Laundrie’s activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito. pic.twitter.com/SSrBVbAeBs
— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) September 23, 2021
Steve Bertolino, and attorney for the Laundrie family said in a statement that the warrant was not for Petito's death but related to alleged debit card fraud of over $1000 that took place between August 30 and September 1.
"It is my understanding that the arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie is related to activities occurring after the death of Gabby Petito and not related to her actual demise," said Bertolino. "The FBI is focusing on locating Brian and when that occurs the specifics of the charges covered under the indictment will be addressed in the proper forum."
Gabby's father, Joseph Petito, tweeted a heart-wrenching tribute to his daughter following her body being found.
— joseph petito (@josephpetito) September 19, 2021
A cause of death has been identified
On October 13, coroner Dr. Brent Blue ruled that Gabby Petito was strangled to death three or four weeks before her body was found on September 19. Aside from identifying strangulation as the cause of death, little else is known about the autopsy report findings. Dr. Blue was unable to give any more information about Gabby's death as Wyoming law controls what information coroners can release.
While there are plenty of theories floating around detailing what this cause of death means, the investigation into Gabby Petito's murder is still at a standstill until the FBI can track down Brian Laundrie - a person of interest in the case - who is as we speak still missing.
Human remains found - identified as Brian Laundrie
Skeletal human remains were found inside the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on Wednesday, October 20, including a fragments of a badly decomposed human skull. The remains were found nearby a dry bag and notebook believed to be Laundrie's.
The Independent has reported that the remains found in Florida belong to Brian Laundrie after FBI investigators matched Laundrie's dental records with the skeletal remains on October 22.
More than a month later on November 24, the autopsy results for Laundrie were released. The report confirmed that Laundrie's cause of death was suicide, with the family’s lawyerSteve Bertolino revealing in a statement that Laundrie died from a gunshot wound to the head.