The case of missing 'van life' influencer, Gabby Petito, has held the world in a state of shock and horror over the past two weeks.
Just five days ago, Gabby's body was found and later identified. Now, a Florida lawyer has put a bounty on Brian Laundrie's head as he remains a missing person.
It all started on September 11th when influencer, Gabby Petito, was reported missing to police by her mother.
Petito had not been in touch with her family since late August when she and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were in Wyoming.
Laundrie returned to Florida on September 1st, without Petito.
He was later named as a person of interest in the case by the authorities.
The pair had been documenting their travels on social media.
But, Petito had not shared a post to her Instagram account for 3 weeks.
North Port police chief, Todd Garrison, issued a statement as the search for her whereabouts began.
"We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks," said Garrison, as per the BBC. "The lack of information from Brian is hindering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out."
The van the pair has been sharing has been seized and searched for clues.
"Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida. These are critical questions that require immediate answers," the Petito family said in a statement.
Throughout the search for Petito, the Laundrie family has largely remained very quiet in regards to her disappearance.
However, just over a week ago, Laundrie's sister, Cassie Laundrie, opened up in an exclusive interview with GMA where she insisted that she and her family "want Gabby to be found safe," ABC7 NY reports.
"Obviously me and my family want Gabby to be found safe," Laundrie said.
"She's like a sister and my children love her, and all I want is for her to come home safe and found and this to be just a big misunderstanding."
Despite the pleas for information and days of looking, the search for Petito was largely unsuccessful...
Until Sunday 19th.
On Sunday, human remains were discovered by authorities searching the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
In a news conference, FBI officials said that the remains were "consistent with the description of" Petito, CNN reports.
Charles Jones, an FBI agent based in Denver, said at the time: "Earlier today, human remains were discovered, consistent with the description of Gabrielle 'Gabby' Petito."
"Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery."
The discovery shocked people across the world.
The images of Gabby in tears w/ the officers will haunt me for years to come. To think if they had seen the signs of abuse she was exhibiting she might be alive is heartbreaking. We need to do better. Praying for her family 💔 #GABBYPETITO— Robyn Proctor (@IvyProctor) September 19, 2021
With many taking to social media to express upset about the news and send love to Petito's family.
But, what was just as shocking, is the power of the internet.
The human remains found by crews were discovered near where YouTubers filmed Petito's van prior to her disappearance.
Jenn and Kyle Bethune, known as "Red White & Bethune" on YouTube, spotted Petito's van in their video after they reviewed their footage in light of her disappearance.
The internet is unbelievable. A YouTuber spotted Gabby Petito & Brian Laundrie’s van in Wyoming while editing foota… https://t.co/0tJS5RFoBU— Jon Marr (@Jon Marr) 1632094134.0
The footage, captured on August 27th, shows a white van parked up at the side of the road in Grand Teton National Park's Spread Creek Dispersed camping area, Insider reports.
This location is near to where the FBI announced that human remains had been found that matched Petito's description.
In the footage uploaded to their YouTube channel, the Bethune's wrote:
"We were editing our Sunday video, tonight and we were looking at footage from on August 27th, 2021 around 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm in Spread Creek Dispersed Camping. 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. When we passed the van, all the lights were off and it didn't look like anyone was there. We ended up leaving because we couldn't find a spot."
Speaking with Insider, Bethune explained that the camera, in their own van, had accidentally been left recording by her husband when it filmed Petito's van.
Once they spotted it and realized that it could be helpful in the search for Petito, they gave it to the FBI who later located the remains in the area.
Although progress into Petito's disappearance has been made over the past few days, many think that police should have done more for the case and sooner...
Particularly when it comes to Laundrie.
Why was he not held in prison u til she was found? Because he is white? Family gave him enough time to go hiding. Three days to travel to go out of country may be.— Sultry (@Sultry6150) September 18, 2021
Officers are being criticized for allowing Laundrie to disappear before he was questioned about the investigation into Petito's whereabouts.
Laundrie disappeared last week after investigators had spent days asking for him and his attorney to co-operate with them. It was only during a visit to the Laundrie family home that authorities learned that Laundrie had been missing for 3 days.
Officers' failure to interrogate Laundrie hasn't only been slammed by people online...
It has also been criticized by experts and former detectives.
Ed Gavin, an expert in missing person cases and former acting chief of the New York City Administration for Children's Services, told the New York Post that Laundrie should have been "under surveillance."
"They should've immediately placed him under surveillance," Gavin said. "Immediately."
"They should've been all over him. The fact that they let him out of their sight, that's a no-no. Time is of the essence with these investigations."
While Pat Diaz, a former Miami-Dade homicide detective, spoke with Fox News and explained that investigators should have obtained a warrant.
"Why would you get consent from the guy, and not get a search warrant?" Diaz said. "You can get a search warrant for everything in that house, including his laptop."
They added that examining Laundrie's device would have helped to provide police investigating the case with significant clues.
But police aren't just being called out for their handling of the case...
Gabby Petito’s life might have had an incredibly different ending if the police officers who pulled them over on August 12th were at all familiar with what domestic violence actually looks like. 💔— Jessica Ciencin Henriquez (@TheWriterJess) September 19, 2021
People are also questioning why they didn't take further action on a 911 call of a "possible domestic violence" incident between Petito and Laundrie that happened a month before her disappearance.
Police officers released bodycam footage of Petito and Laundrie after they followed up on a 911 call made by a witness in Utah.
In the call on September 12th, the man claims to have seen Laundrie hit Petito before getting into his van and driving off.
Police arrived at the scene of the domestic incident report shortly after the call was made...
And the released footage shows officers talking to Petito and Laundrie on the side of the road showing Petito visibly distressed.
The hour-long bodycam footage has since been watched by thousands...
It shows officers' interaction with the couple when they pulled over their white van outside Arches National Park in Moab.
The footage, obtained by ABC7, shows the officer separate the couple and begin to question them about what led to the 911 call.
During her conversation with the officer, Petito can be heard saying: "I have really bad OCD. I was apologizing to him saying I'm sorry I'm so mean.
"We've been fighting all morning. He wouldn't let me in the car before... He told me I needed to calm down."
The officer then sat Petito in the back of his patrol car before moving to talk to Laundrie.
Speaking with the officer, Laundrie said: "She just gets worked up sometimes, I try to distance myself from her. I locked the car.
"I said, 'Let's just take a breather.' She had her phone. I was trying to push her away to say, 'Let's just take a step back,'" he said while adding that Petito hit him with her phone.
As per ABC7, the incident was reportedly categorized by police as a "mental/emotional health break" rather than a domestic assault.
The couple reportedly agreed to spend the night separately instead of charges being filed with the police helping Laundrie to sort a hotel room while Petito remained with the van.
From the footage, it might appear that Petito was the initiator of the violence...
However, the 911 call, that has been released to the public, says otherwise.
As per the call obtained by CBS, the caller can be heard telling police...
#GABBYPETITO— Author Josie Garrett (@AuthorJGarrett) September 19, 2021
It concerns me that 2 police departments were called because of reports of an altercation between Brian and Gabby and then did nothing to help her. Often, the victim of domestic abuse looks crazed and out of control while the abuser remains calm and "normal".
"I'm right in the corner of Main Street by Moonflower and we are driving and I'd like to report a domestic dispute. Florida with a white van - Florida license plate, white van," The man says before police ask him for the details.
"They just drove off. They're going towards Main Street. They made a right onto Main Street from Moonflower. We drove by him, a gentleman was slapping the girl," the caller says.
"'He was slapping her?" the officer inquires.
"Yes. And then we stopped. They ran down and up the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off."
He then goes into detail about the van and where exactly the incident took place.
You can listen to the audio for yourself below...
Then, just weeks after the incident, Gabby Petito's mom received a message from her daughter's phone.
She admitted that the abrupt text was what ignited her concern for her daughter.
As Schmidt does not believe this text was actually written by Petito. "The van was in Florida on the 1st [of September]. I think I can do the math," she explained to the New York Post.
Schmidt however, refused to comment on who she did believe had sent the message.
The text sent on August 30th read: "No service in Yosemite," which Nicole Schmidt feels was very unlike her daughter.
The text came just 1 day after her final Instagram post was shared to her account.
Then Laundrie arrived back home without Petito 4 days later, setting off more alarm bells.
Then another cryptic message, which was found on a hard drive in the couple's van was released thanks to a newly surfaced warrant.
According to the warrant, this was the last text Schmidt received from her daughter.
The warrant declares...
"The text message read, 'Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.'" It continues: "The reference to 'Stan,' was regarding her grandfather, but per the mother, she never calls him 'Stan.' The mother was concerned that something was wrong with her daughter."
It seems that those investigating Petito's case feel the hard drive could contain essential evidence into the events that lead to her death...
Something that we're all hoping for, for the sake of Petito's family and friends.
An autopsy was then carried out on the body found in Wyoming on Sunday.
And it has been confirmed that that body belonged to 22-year-old Gabby Petito.
While Laundrie remains missing.
A lawyer in Florida has now put a $20,000 bounty on his head.
The lawyer runs a Tampa Bay based law firm.
And they are offering 20k to the first person who can bring forward information that is responsible for the arrest of Laundrie.
The law firm released a statement reading:
A reward will be paid once the investigating law enforcement agency supplies Boohoff Law written verification that a tip helped lead to locating Brian Laundrie.
"The authorized reward will remain open for two months starting from the receipt of the tip by the investigating law enforcement."
"Only one reward is offered. This reward is offered to the first person to supply information leading directly to the exact whereabouts of missing person Brian Laundrie. This reward cannot be split."
I guess all we can hope for now is some more information.
Such a tragic tale.
Our thoughts are with Gabby Peitio's loved ones during this difficult time.
Rest in peace, Gabby.