Two people left on a trip but only one came home. Over the past few days, I've been absolutely captivated by this #VanLife-gone-wrong saga.
Pleasant photos of hikes, scenery, and a small white van fill the Instagram grids posted by Brian Laundrie, 23, and his girlfriend, Gabrielle Petito, 22. They now have over 95,000 and 324,000 followers respectively. Beneath the surface, though, an ugly story was developing.
Here's an approximate timeline: the couple left on July 2nd for what was supposed to be a four-month trip through the American West. On August 12th in Moah, Utah, police responded to domestic problem.
Mr. Laundrie and Ms. Petito both told the police that they were in love and engaged to be married and "desperately didn't wish to see anyone charged with a crime."
Mr. Laundrie told one officer that "issues between the two had been building over the last few days," a police report said.
Ms. Petito cried during the encounter with the police and said she suffered from anxiety, according to body camera footage of the episode. In the police report, Ms. Petito is recorded saying she moved to slap Mr. Laundrie because she feared that he "was going to leave her in Moab without a ride."The New York Times
No charges were filed, and Mr. Laundrie stayed in a hotel that night. Eleven days later, around August 23rd, Ms. Petito's family spoke with her for the last time. The last post on her Instagram is dated two days later.
In one of the more unusual details of the case, Fox News reports that Ms. Petito listened to "a series of haunting songs" on September 1st according to her public Spotify records.
In September, the story becomes more concerning. Mr. Laundrie came home from a cross-country trip on September 1 without his girlfriend. Gabrielle Petito's family became suspicious, and when they recieve answers from Mr. Laundrie, they reported her missing on Sept. 11th. Gabrielle Petito's family is now publically asking Brian Laundrie for answers.
Though the incident has attracted widespread attention, Mr. Laundrie is still clammed up regarding Ms. Petito's location. His lawyer, however, made a brief public statement.
On Wednesday, Steven Bertolino, a lawyer for Mr. Laundrie in East Islip, N.Y., said in a statement that he had advised Mr. Laundrie not to speak with the authorities because, in his experience, an intimate partner is often the first person law enforcement "focuses their attention on in cases like this."The New York Times
This 8-minute vlog shows a gleaming portrait of the couple's day-to-day life before Ms. Petito's disappearance.