Eleven days into the search for missing travel blogger Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, authorities reported Tuesday that human remains recovered two days prior at a national park in Wyoming had been positively identified as Petito and that she had died as a result of homicide.
Petito had been traveling with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, in a white van, and the two were documenting their cross-country road trip on a YouTube channel and on Instagram.
“There is nothing else that matters to me,” said Petito’s father, Joe Petito, during a press conference on Thursday. “This girl is what matters, anything else comes to second to this.”
Police named Laundrie a person of interest last week, though federal and state authorities continue to work to piece together evidence from the last three months.
Here’s a timeline of events in the ongoing case:
Petito and Laundrie left Laundrie’s family home in North Port, Florida, where the two had been living together with Laundrie’s parents for over a year. North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said the couple had planned on traveling west in Petito’s van to visit state and national parks.
The couple traveled through Colorado and into Utah.
Petito posted on Instagram on July 10 that they were at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Duncan, Colorado. A little over two weeks later, Petito posted a photo from Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah.
Police in Moab, Utah, reported responding to an “incident” that involved a domestic dispute between Petito and Laundrie.
The Grand County, Utah, Sheriff’s Office released a 911 recording in which a caller claimed he witnessed Brian Laundrie allegedly “slapping” Gabby Petito and chasing her up and down a sidewalk in Moab, hitting her.
In the recording of the 911 call, the caller, whose name was not released, claimed he saw the apparent domestic dispute unfold on Main Street in Moab between a young couple driving a white van with Florida license plates.
“We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl,” the caller told a 911 dispatcher. “And then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and drove off.”
Moab Police Department Chief Bret Edge said his officers responded to the incident, located the van and pulled the couple over. Moab police released body-camera footage of the traffic stop and wrote in a report that the couple, identified as Laundrie and Petito, admitted to arguing and that Petito had slapped Laundrie.
The couple also stated to police that Laundrie did not hit Petito, according to the report.
After speaking to Petito and Laundrie separately, the police allowed the couple to continue on their way. Edge said, “Insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.”
Petito and Laundrie’s YouTube channel, “Nomadic Statik,” uploaded its first video titled “VAN LIFE: Beginning Our Van Life Journey.” In the video, Petito blogs about the couple’s adventures while living in their white van and the two are seen as very affectionate on camera.
Petito was spotted checking out of a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, police said. That was the last time Petito was reportedly seen alive.
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, said she last spoke to her daughter on Aug. 25 and said Petito told her that she and Laundrie were leaving Utah and headed to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks in Wyoming.
“She sounded good and excited to continue her trip and excited to start her YouTube channel,” Schmidt told ABC News in tears. “She seemed OK.”
Petito, whose family said maintained regular contact, “abruptly stopped” communication toward the end of August, according to police.
Schmidt said she received two text messages from Petito’s phone since Aug. 25, but there were no photos or details from the trip, so it is unclear whether Petito actually sent those messages.
The last photograph uploaded to Petito’s Instagram was posted on Aug. 25, without a geotagged location.
Aug. 27 – 30
Federal and state authorities said that investigators believe Petito disappeared near the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping area in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.
The Denver FBI asked the public for help via Twitter.
“The FBI seeks assistance from anyone who utilized the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area between the dates of August 27-30, 2021 who may have had contact with Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito or her boyfriend, or who may have seen their vehicle,” said the release.
Potential witness Miranda Baker claimed in a TikTok post that she and her boyfriend gave Laundrie a ride in Grand Teton National Park on Aug. 29.
Police in Florida confirmed to ABC News that they have spoken to Baker, but federal authorities have yet to confirm her statement.
Baker claimed Laundrie told her and her boyfriend that he had been camping alone for days while Petito worked on their social media page from their van.
In an interview with ABC News, Baker said that when she told Laundrie that they were headed to Jackson, “He got out and he was thankful and he was kind of in a hurry. So he said he was going to go across the street into the parking lot and find someone else to give him a ride. But when we look back 10 or 15 seconds after he got out of the vehicle, he was gone.”
Police said that Laundrie returned by himself to Florida in Petito’s white van.
“Two people went on a trip, one person returned, and that person isn’t cooperating,” Garrison said during a press conference.
Petito was reported missing by her family to the Suffolk County Police Department in New York.
The family, who lives in Long Island, New York, said in the report that Petito had stopped communicating with her friends and family and that she was believed to be near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
“Every day the search for Gabby continues the Schmidt and Petito family becomes more desperate,” according to a statement released by the Petito family’s attorney, Richard Stafford. “They are frantically searching for answers and information in their daughter’s disappearance while Brian sits in the comfort of his home.”
Laundrie and his family released a statement that he will remain silent under the advice of his counsel.
“This is understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family. It is our understanding that a search has been organized for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family. On the advice of counsel the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment,” Laundrie’s attorney said in a statement.
The North Port Police named Laundrie a “person of interest.”
“As of now, Brian has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details,” the police report states.
The Laundrie family lawyer, Steven Bertolino, said he advised Laundrie not to speak with law enforcement.
Bertolino said that in his experience, intimate partners are often the first person suspected in a case like this and “The warning that ‘any statement made will be used against you’ is true.”
The Petito family released a letter to the Laundrie family pleading for their cooperation.
“We understand you are going through a difficult time and your instinct to protect your son is strong,” the letter stated. “We ask you to put yourselves in our shoes. We haven’t been able to sleep or eat and our lives are falling apart.”
“Please, if you or your family has any decency left, please tell us where Gabby is located. Tell us if we are even looking in the right place,” the letter continued. “All we want is Gabby to come home. Please help us make that happen.”
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Laundrie’s sister, Cassie Laundrie, said that she hopes Petito returns home safely.
“Obviously, me and my family want Gabby to be found safe,” she told Good Morning America. “She’s like a sister and my children love her and all I want is for her to come home safe and sound and this to be just a big misunderstanding.”
Laundrie was reported missing by his family. According to both the attorney for the family and the North Port Police Department, Laundrie’s family said they hadn’t seen him in days.
His family told police they last saw the 23-year-old on Sept. 14, when he left with a backpack and told them he was going to the Carlton Reserve near their home in North Port, Florida.
Bertolino said that night that Laundrie’s whereabouts “are currently unknown.”
“All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing,” the Petito family’s lawyer responded in a statement.
Authorities had been investigating a double homicide around Moab, Utah, near where Petito disappeared, but determined this was not connected to the Petito case, according to the Grand County Sheriff’s Department.
More than 50 police officers accompanied by FBI agents, drones, K-9 and bloodhounds started to search for Laundrie in over 25,000 acres of a nature preserve, law enforcement said.
North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor said at a news conference that a tip from the family drove law enforcement to the Carlton Reserve.
“Our goal is to locate him and bring him to North Port,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, the Carlton Reserve is an area where Laundrie frequently goes for hikes. He said that Laundrie’s knowledge of the area paired with his “living off the grid” skills could enable him to “be out here for months if [he] wanted.”
The Teton County coroner announced that a body was recovered in the Bridger-Teton National Park. The FBI released a statement that said that the human remains found were “consistent with the description” of Petito, but a full forensic ID has not yet been completed.
The cause of death has not been determined.
Petito’s parents were notified of the discovery and have since declined any media requests at this time, according to their lawyer.
Investigators are still searching for Laundrie, who was last seen in Florida.
The Teton County Coroner’s Office confirmed that the body found on Sunday was Petito’s and that an initial determination showed she had died due to homicide.
The cause of death is pending final autopsy results, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said.
“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,” FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said in a statement.
In Florida, authorities continued their search for Laundrie without success. The North Port Police Department said the day’s search found “nothing of note.”