As the search to find Brian Laundrie continues, a hiker has spoken out about his possible encounter with the suspect...
The hiker claims he was stopped by Laundrie just days ago on the Appalachian Trial.
Scroll on to find out more about the alleged encounter.
Now, we were all shocked when we first heard about Gabby Petito's case...
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 had been sharing was 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, Laundrie's sister, Cassie Laundrie, eventually 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.
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 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.
Officers are being criticized for allowing Laundrie to disappear before he was questioned about the investigation into Petito's whereabouts.
Laundrie disappeared 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".
That he saw Laundrie slap Petito before getting in their van and leaving.
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 felt 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.
Another cryptic message, which was found on a hard drive in the couple's van, was then 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.
And it has been confirmed that that body belonged to twenty-two-year-old Gabby Petito.
While Laundrie remains missing...
Services for our sweet Gabby will be held at Moloney Funeral Home in Holbrook on Sunday September 26th from 12pm-5pm. Thank to all for your suppprt and love. pic.twitter.com/rYB0wePoJh— joseph petito (@josephpetito) September 24, 2021
A lawyer in Florida has now put a $20,000 bounty on his head.
The lawyer runs a Tampa Bay-based law firm.
New statement from Gabby Petito's family attorney demanding Laundrie family attorney remove Gabby's picture from his Yelp page. Also asking he cease and desist from posting pictures of Gabby to any of his social media. They are giving him until 2pm. pic.twitter.com/yLBwYKcNeg— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) September 22, 2021
And they are offering 20K to the first person who can bring forward information that is responsible for the arrest of Laundrie so people are doing their best to aid the case in whatever way they can.
Then a twist in the tale saw Dog the Bounty Hunter join the hunt.
DOG SNIFFING FOR TIPS: Dog the Bounty Hunter gives Brian Laundrie's parents a rude awakening as he joins massive manhunt for the most wanted man in Americahttps://t.co/obK7KrMvqQ pic.twitter.com/LpiXxE3IGw— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 25, 2021
Duane Chapman, also known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, joined the search for America's most wanted man right now.
He was seen approaching the Laundrie family home on September 25th.
Dog the bounty hunter at the house https://t.co/C4o7kSmc4m— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) September 25, 2021
Chapman was seen walking straight to the Laundrie house before knocking on the door. However, no one answered.
Within just days Chapman found something of interest in the case as he told Fox News that he received a tip which alleged that from September 1st to 3rd and September 6th to 8th, Laundrie's parents spent the night in Fort De Soto Park with their son.
Fort De Soto Park is located in Pinellas County, around seventy-five miles away from Laundries' home.
Speaking with the outlet, Chapman said: "They were registered, went through the gate. They're on camera. They were here. We think at least if he's not here right now, we are sure he was caught on camera as he went in the gate — that he was here for sure. Not over in the swamp."
"Allegedly, what we're hearing, is two people left on the 8th. Three people came in on the 6th, and 2 people left on the 8th. I think he's been here for sure," he said.
Though a spokesperson for Pinellas County sheriff told Fox News that they were not currently investigating Fort De Soto Park.
Lawyer, Steven Bertolino, has since confirmed Champan's findings that Laundrie went on a trip with his parents shortly after returning home...
#BrianLaundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, says Brian and his parents Roberta and Chris all went on a camping trip on September 6 and stayed until September 7. Bertolino says reservations were until the 8th but all three left on the 7th. @mysuncoast Here’s the exchange ⬇️ https://t.co/rxaxHB3yDr pic.twitter.com/01faziDenx— Daniela Hurtado (@DaniCHurtado_) September 28, 2021
However, he insisted that all 3 members of the family left the campsite together on the 7th, unlike Chapman's theory.
Then new information was been released by Laundrie's sister...
At :24 into the video “I haven’t been able to talk to him.”— Jacob Rossi (@jacobrossitx) October 1, 2021
Now we know Cassie Laundrie did talk to her brother in the days leading up to his disappearance/escape. The entire Laundrie family is lying. #BrianLaundrie #CassieLaundrie https://t.co/8qNgJfLbEk
As she said she was also at the campsite with her parents and brother before Laundrie went missing.
Cassie admits she saw her brother twice in the 2 week period from when he arrived back in Florida without Petito and when he went missing...
Meaning everything she said previously was a lie.
The Laundrie family lawyer has since confirmed that Cassie saw Laundrie on September 1st when he came home...
And then again on the 6th, when they all took a camping trip to Fort De Soto Park.
However, her new statement contradicts everything she admitted to previously...
Including her interview with ABC's Good Morning America, where she stated that she had not spoken to Laundrie since September 1st.
Cassie told GMA: "I haven't been able to talk to him. I wish I could talk to him."
Adding: "I've cooperated in every way that I can. I wish I had information or I would give more."
This new information came about after Dog the Bounty Hunter followed a tip that claimed Cassie joined her family on the camping trip...
Typical body language of someone who is lying:— Savannah Meyer (@savannahjmeyer_) October 1, 2021
1. Shaking head & excessive movements
2. Perspiring or blotchiness
3. Inconsistent eye contact
Go watch the #cassielaundrie interview again and tell me she's not completely full of it. This whole family is. #justiceforgabby pic.twitter.com/4LpgvkBne4
Meaning she saw him 5 days after she originally said she'd last seen him.
Attorney, Steve Bertolino, has since stated that it was nothing sinister on Cassie's part and that her words have been "misinterpreted."
#CassieLaundrie saw her brother #BrianLaundrie at least twice after #GabbyPetito went missing, the family lawyer says. Statements made in prior interviews were “misinterpreted,” he adds. pic.twitter.com/bJTeQCM9Y6— Michael Ruiz (@mikerreports) October 1, 2021
"Any prior communication by Cassie that does not reflect these dates is simply a difference of relating an answer to a question misinterpreted by Cassie or poorly posed by the inquirer," Bertolino said, according to a tweet shared by Michael Ruiz. Adding: "Law enforcement agencies are well aware of these dates."
But that isn't the only tip that Dog has handed over to the police.
Dog has also handed some evidence over to the police in hope that it can be examined for DNA, according to New York Post.
He hopes it will prove Brian's presence at the Florida Park...
Dog The Bounty Hunter Closes In On Brian Laundrie’s Hiding Spot In Fort De Soto Island | Getting Justice For Gabby… https://t.co/cZzkbz7srI— 730 Radio CEO (@730 Radio CEO) 1633302681.0
Especially after tracking the Laundrie family to a campsite at Fort De Soto Park.
Each day it seems that progress is being made in the hunt for Laundrie...
And the latest possible sighting of Laundrie could add to that.
Dennis Davis, a hiker who claims to have met Laundrie just days ago on the Appalachian Trial, has spoken out.
As per the DailyMail, Davis claims that he was stopped by Laundrie while on a deserted road near the Tennessee and North Carolina border, at around 12.30 AM Saturday morning.
If true, this places Laundrie around 700 miles away from his home in North Point, Florida.
Speaking with the outlet about the encounter with the wanted man, Davis explained that his "heart dropped" when it happened.
Davis told the outlet that when he was first stopped by the man, he did not recognize him to be Laundrie. It was only around fifteen minutes later when he searched a photo of Laundrie and saw the matching beard and mustache that the link clicked. Davis told the outlet he immediately dialed 911 and the FBI after realizing to report it.
Davis also told DailyMail that at first, he thought Laundrie was on dr*gs.
"When I first saw him I kind of thought he was on dr*gs because he was acting weird," he said. "But as I thought about it, I don't necessarily think he was on dr*gs because he was talking very clearly. And that's when I thought, after a month of hiding out, after killing someone that you supposedly love, it's got to be wearing on him."
Davis explained that the man he spoke with looked "well kept."
"He looked fairly well kept," he said. "He looked thoroughly clean and well kept. The incident itself was pretty short and sweet."
During the encounter, the man also told Davis that he was going to visit his girlfriend.
Laundrie reportedly said to Davis: "Man, I've got to get to California. My girlfriend and I got in a fight and she called me and she told me she loves me but I got to go to California to see her."
The search for Laundrie continues...