Brian Laundrie: who was Gabby Petito’s boyfriend, where was his body found, and did he confess to killing her? 

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A documentary exploring the disappearance and death of American blogger Gabby Petito is set to air today, with exclusive interviews with Petito’s parents and step-parents. 

Brian Laundrie, her boyfriend, took responsibility for killing Petito in a notebook found near his body, the FBI said on Friday 21 January.

The agency plans to close the investigation into her 2021 homicide.

In a statement, the FBI in Denver said their “investigation did not identify any other individuals other than Brian Laundrie directly involved in the tragic death of Gabby Petito.”

“A review of the notebook revealed written statements by Mr Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms Petito’s death,” the agency said.

The investigation also revealed that Laundrie had sent several text messages between his and Petito’s phones following her death in an attempt “to deceive law enforcement by giving the impression that Ms Petito was still alive.”

Laundrie was the subject of an FBI manhunt last year. In October 2021, human skeletal remains were found during the search, and these was confirmed to belong to Laundrie. 

Petito, 22, disappeared in September, and her body was found at a national park in Wyoming on 19 September following a cross-country trip with Laundrie.

What else did the FBI say?

The FBI said they were closing the investigation.

“All logical investigative steps have been concluded in this case,” FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said on Friday (21 January).

“The FBI’s primary focus throughout the investigation was to bring justice to Gabby and her family.”

Rick Stafford, an attorney for the Petito/Schmidt family, thanked the Wyoming, Denver, New York and Tampa FBI offices in a statement on behalf of Gabby’s family.

“Gabby’s family would like to thank the FBI’s Victim Services Department for all they have done for them,” he added.

“Victim Services has been there for support from the earliest stages of this investigation and helped their entire family navigate through the worst moments of their lives.”

Who was Brian Laundrie?

Laundrie was the fiancé of Gabby Petito, the blogger who was reported missing after the pair embarked on a road trip together in July.

Laundrie met Petito when they were both in high school, at Bayport-Blue Point High on New York’s Long Island, according to Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt.

The two began dating in March 2019, and in July 2020 it appears from their Instagram posts that they got engaged.

In one post, Laundrie wrote: “My biggest fear is that one day I’ll wake up and it will have all been a dream, because that is what every second has felt like since the moment we found each other.

“Till death do us part or until I wake up, I’m so happy the answer was yes, Love you hunny.”

Laundrie appeared to make money by selling his art online under the handle Bizarre Design. His Instagram shows artwork like linocut prints, bookmarks and drawings. 

An anonymous former co-worker of Laundrie also claims that the 23-year-old is “well versed” in surviving in the wild. 

Speaking to the New York Post, the unnamed source said: “In conversation about hiking … Brian talked about the longest time that he spent in the woods was six weeks and bragged about only having a large pack of either cheese or peanut butter crackers to sustain him for that time.” 

Laundrie’s online presence indicates that he is a keen traveller and camper. 

What happened on the road trip?

Laundrie and Petito documented their cross-country journey on Petito’s YouTube account, as well as across other social media.

While pictures on Instagram portrayed the couple as very happy and in love, witness reports and video evidence has painted a different picture.

Police video released by a Utah department showed that an officer pulled the van the pair were travelling in over on 12 August after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near the entrance to Arches National Park.

Body cam footage showed an emotional Petito, who sat inside a police car while officers also questioned Laundrie.

Petito told officers she was struggling with her mental health, with the responding officer writing in their report that, “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.”

Police decided not file any charges, instead separating the couple for the night with Laundrie checking into a motel and Petito remaining with the converted van, and characterising the incident as a mental/emotional health break instead of domestic assault.

In a new video released by the Moab city police department, Petito can be seen talking about a physical fight that happened between them.

An officer in the video asks if Laundrie hit her, to which Petito replies: “I guess, I guess, yeah.”

A witness also claimed to have seen Laundrie slapping and hitting Petito in Moab, Utah, weeks before she went missing.

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