Timeline of Gabby Petito Tragedy 1 Year After Killer Brian Laundrie's Body Was Found

The 22-year-old woman from Long Island, N.Y., was found strangled in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park last September, and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, was found dead by suicide several weeks later

Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie
Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie. Photo: Find Gabby/Facebook
01 of 21

Petito and Laundrie Begin 'Van Life' Journey on YouTube

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito. Gabby Petito Instagram

Gabrielle Petito, 22, and fiancé Brian Laundrie, 23, posted a YouTube video last Aug. 19, documenting the beginning of their first cross-country journey together. They wrote in the clip's caption that they "both decided we to wanted downsize our lives and travel full time," so they "handcrafted" their own "2012 Ford transit connect" to embark on their travels.

02 of 21

911 Caller Says He Saw Laundrie 'Slapping' Petito

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito. Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

A couple of days before they posted their video, a man called police to report that he saw the couple arguing outside a food cooperative called Moonflower in Moab, Utah. He told the dispatcher that he saw a man hitting a female, according to audio of the call obtained by PEOPLE.

"We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl," the caller told the dispatcher.

"He was slapping her?" the dispatcher asked.

"Yes, and then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off," the caller added.

After the 911 call, the couple was pulled over by Moab police on Aug. 12, 2021, and their encounter with officers was captured on body camera footage that has been publicly released. In the footage, Petito admits to striking Laundrie, while Laundrie admits to pushing his fiancée. In the end, the incident was classified as "disorderly conduct."

03 of 21

Petito's Family Receives 'Odd Text' from Gabby's Phone

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito. Gabby Petito Instagram

Nicole Schmidt, Petito's mother, received an "odd text" from her daughter's phone on Aug. 27, 2021, according to an unsealed search warrant filed by police.

The message read: "Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls."

Schmidt told investigators that Stan is Petito's grandfather, but that she doesn't usually refer to him by his first name, the warrant, which was obtained by PEOPLE, stated.

"The mother was concerned that something was wrong with her daughter," police wrote.

This was the last communication that Petito had with her family. After Aug. 27, her phone wasn't operational, and she did not post anything on social media, authorities said in the search warrant.

04 of 21

Petito Reported Missing

gabby petito
Gabrielle Petito with her dad, Joseph. Facebook

Petito was offically reported missing on Sept. 11, 2021. PEOPLE confirmed with the Suffolk County Police Department at the time that Petito had last verbally contacted her relatives on Aug. 25, when she was near Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming.

Petito's father, Joseph Petito, told Newsday that his daughter's disappearance felt like "drowning with your hands tied behind you."

He added: "You can't describe it. There's nothing you can do. You can't control anything."

Following the missing persons report, North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor told reporters during a press conference held by authorities in Florida on Sept. 15, 2021, that Laundrie had quietly gone back home 10 days before Petito's parents reported her missing.

05 of 21

The Search for Petito Begins

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito. Joseph Petito Twitter

As the story unfolded, many took interest in the disappearance of Petito and tried to help find the 22-year-old New York woman. Both the Petitos and the Laundries spoke out publicly about wanting Petito to be found safe.

A letter addressed to Laundrie's parents was read aloud in front of the news media on Sept. 16, 2021, which detailed Petito's parents begging for help to find their daughter.

"We believe you know the location where Brian left Gabby," the letter read. "We beg you to tell us. As a parent, how could you let us go through this pain and not help us? As a parent, how could you put Gabby's younger brothers and sisters through this."

The next day, Cassie Laundrie, Brian's sister, told Good Morning America that Petito is "like a sister" to her and that "obviously, me and my family want Gabby to be found safe."

She added, "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."

06 of 21

Laundrie Is Declared a Person of Interest

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito. North Port Police Department/Facebook

By the time both families had spoken out, Laundrie had been named a person of interest in Petito's disappearance, according to authorities in Florida, where Laundrie and Petito had been living before their trip.

North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor told reporters on Sept. 15, 2021, that officers went to Laundrie's parents' home to talk to them, but were told to contact their lawyer. Shortly after the announcement, Gabby's father, Joseph Petito, told PEOPLE that "he's been a person of interest in my opinion, since this thing started," adding, "I've got questions, but the only one that matters is, 'Where'd you leave Gabby? Where did you last see her?'"

07 of 21

Laundrie Goes Missing

Brian Laundrie search
The search for Brian Laundrie in Carlton Reserve. Courtesy North Port Police

By Sept. 17, 2021, Laundrie had also gone missing and North Porth Police said in a statement that they were searching for him and Petito, along with the FBI.

"It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby's disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime," police said in a statement. "We are not currently working on a crime investigation. We are now working on a multiple missing person investigation."

"We've been trying all week to talk to his family, to talk to Brian, and now they've called us here on Friday, we've gone to the home, and they're saying now they have not seen their son," North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor told CNN. "So we are working through those details as we speak. It is another twist in this story."

08 of 21

Petito's Body Is Found

gabby petito
Gabrielle Petito. Facebook

The FBI confirmed on Sept. 21, 2021, that Petito's body was found near Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. According to a tweet by the FBI's Denver field office, Petito died by homicide.

The FBI said at the time that Laundrie was a person of interest in the case.

Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said in the FBI's tweet confirming Gabby's death, "Anyone with information concerning Mr. Laundrie's role in this matter or his current whereabouts should contact the FBI."

09 of 21

An Arrest Warrant Is Issued for Laundrie

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie. Gabby Petito Instagram

While the search went on to find Laundrie, the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal warrant for his arrest on Sept. 22, 2021, according to an announcement from FBI Denver. The 23-year-old was indicted by a federal grand jury for "use of unauthorized access devices" following Petito's death. Charging documents allege that Laundrie used an unauthorized debit card with the intent to defraud.

"While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito's homicide," FBI Denver wrote in a statement. "We urge individuals with knowledge of Mr. Laundrie's role in this matter or his current whereabouts to contact the FBI."

Laundrie's parents say they were not clued in on their son's whereabouts, the family's attorney told PEOPLE on Sept. 27, 2021.

"They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him," attorney Steve Bertolino said in a statement, adding, "The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong."

10 of 21

Petito's Father Thanks Everyone for Their Support at Her Funeral

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito. Gabby Petito Instagram

A funeral for Petito was held on Sept. 26, 2021, in Holbrook, N.Y. Joe Petito thanked everyone for their support in wake of his daughter's disappearance, then asked them not to be sad, but rather "inspired" by Petito and all she embodied.

"So when you leave here today, be inspired by what she brought to the table," he said, "because the entire planet knows this woman's name now. And she's inspired a lot of women and a lot of men to do what's best for them first. Put yourself first and do it now while you have the time. I couldn't be more proud as a father."

11 of 21

Cassie Laundrie Expresses Frustration with Family

Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie. Instagram

On Oct. 5, 2021, Laundrie's sister, Cassie, returned to GMA to urge her brother to turn himself in.

"Just come forward and get us out of this horrible mess," Cassie said, addressing Laundrie on the morning news program. She said that she wasn't aware of Laundrie's whereabouts — and if she was, she would have told authorities.

"I really wish he had come to me first that day with the van, because I don't think we'd be here," Cassie told ABC News. "I'm angry and I don't know what to think."

She added, "I hope my brother is alive because I want answers just as much as everybody else."

The day before her GMA interview, Cassie spent nearly 20 minutes answering questions from protestors outside her home, telling them that she doesn't know if her brother killed Petito, she doesn't know if he's still alive and she doesn't understand why her parents are staying silent.

"I'm in the boat where I'm getting ignored by my family and thrown under the bus by my family's attorney," she said in footage of the conversation obtained by NewsNation.

Despite her frustration with how her family has handled the investigation, Cassie made note that she never saw her brother being violent or abusive, toward Petito or anyone else.

12 of 21

Medical Examiner Says Petito Died from Strangulation

Gabby Petito’s Father Joe Petito Says His Late Daughter ‘Is Already Saving Lives’ of Others
Gabby Petito. Joseph Petito/Twitter

Petito died from strangulation, a medical examiner announced in a press conference on Oct. 12, 2021. The full autopsy results arrived more than three weeks after her body was found in Grand Teton National Park.

Teton County Coroner Brent Blue told members of the media that under Wyoming state law, he was unable to divulge many details of the autopsy and declined to share whether Petito was manually strangled or if an item was used. However, he confirmed that her body was outside for three to four weeks. He also added that Petito was not pregnant at the time that she died.

13 of 21

Petito's Friends React to Her Cause of Death

Gabby Petito in music video
Gabby Petito. Irreplaceable/Youtube

After it was revealed on that Petito had been strangled to death, the young woman's friends shared their thoughts with PEOPLE.

"It makes me sick to my stomach," Alyssa Chen said. "I wonder what was going through her mind, knowing she was probably about to die. She must have been so scared."

Chen added: "Whoever did this, whether it's Brian or someone else, needs to pay for what they did. She didn't deserve to die that way."

"If Brian strangled her, I hope he burns in hell," said Ben Matula, who was friends with the couple. "That's all I have to say."

Also after the coroner's announcement, Laundrie's lawyer, Steven Bertolino, referred to Petito's death "at such a young age" as a "tragedy."

Petito's mom, Nicole Schmidt, responded to Bertolino's statement in a text to WFLA, saying, "His words are garbage. Keep talking."

14 of 21

Laundrie's Remains Found in Florida Park

Brian Laundrie
Mark Taylor/Getty Images

On Oct. 21, 2021, the FBI confirmed that partial human remains found a day before in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park belonged to Laundrie.

Authorities located Laundrie's remains next to a backpack and a notebook. That same area had been searched weeks before, but it had been underwater due to changes in the swampy terrain, and Laundrie was not found during the initial search.

On the morning his remains were found, Laundrie's parents had searched the park along with authorities, finding a white bag and another unspecified item, the Laundrie family attorney, Steve Bertolino, told Fox News Digital.

Laundrie's parents said they last saw Laundrie on Sept. 13, when he went left their home to go for a hike in the park.

15 of 21

Laundrie Was 'Upset' When He Left Home for Last Time: Lawyer

Brian Laundrie search
Search for Brian Laundrie. Courtesy North Port Police

Bertolino, the Laundrie family lawyer, told PEOPLE that "Brian was upset" when he left the Laundrie home for the last time on Sept. 13, saying that "he was not able to be persuaded not to leave the house."

Bertolino said he has been friends with Laundrie's parents for over 25 years, adding that the couple was grieving.

"Getting the news that your child is no longer with you is sad, under any circumstances," Bertolino said. "The fact that the Laundries have been subjected to these people out in front of their house the last four weeks, and they continue out there today, makes it all the more difficult."

The discovery of Laundrie's body ended a 32-day search involving multiple law enforcement agencies.

16 of 21

No Funeral for Brian Laundrie, Family Lawyer Says

Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie. Instagram

Days after Laundrie's remains were found, Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, told PEOPLE that his "remains will be cremated and there will be no funeral service."

Bertolino also said Laundrie's autopsy had been inconclusive, saying that "no manner or cause of death was determined, and the remains were sent to an anthropologist for further evaluation."

Bertolino also told PEOPLE the FBI had informed him they have "everything they need" from the family with respect to their investigation into Petito's killing.

17 of 21

Laundrie Died from Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound

Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie. gabby petito/ instagram

Laundrie died from a gunshot wound to the head, family attorney Steven Bertolino announced in 2021. His death was ruled a suicide.

The news came nearly five weeks after partial human remains of the 23-year-old fugitive were discovered in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park — near Laundrie's last known location.

"Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families," Bertolino told PEOPLE in a statement.

In February, PEOPLE obtained Laundrie's full autopsy results, a 47-page document that included an anthropologist's findings, a toxicology report, and a detailed list of what was discovered in Myakkahatchee.

18 of 21

FBI Names Laundrie the Killer & Closes the Case

Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie
Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie. Find Gabby/Facebook

On Jan. 21, 2022, the FBI revealed that a notebook found near Laundrie's remains included a written confession taking responsibility for his fiancée's death.

"All logical investigative steps have been concluded in this case," FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said in a statement. "The investigation did not identify any other individuals other than Brian Laundrie directly involved in the tragic death of Gabby Petito."

With authorities naming Laundrie the sole person connected to Petito's death, the months-long case that captivated the nation came to a close.

19 of 21

Petito's Parents File Lawsuit Against Laundrie's Parents

Nichole Schmidt, mother of Gabby Petito, whose death on a cross-country trip has sparked a manhunt for her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, speaks alongside, from left, Tara Petito, stepmother, Jim Schmidt, stepfather, and Joseph Petito, father, during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, in Bohemia, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Gabby Petito's parents and stepparents at a press conference in September 2021. AP Photo/John Minchillo

Gabby's parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, filed a lawsuit in March 2022 seeking more than $30,000 in damages for the mental anguish they suffered due to the alleged deceit of the Laundries. The March filing also alleges that Christopher and Roberta helped Brian conceal Gabby's murder and were making plans for him to flee the country.

The suit also alleges that instead of helping Joseph and Nichole locate their daughter, the Laundrie parents went on vacation with Brian and ignored pleas for help from Gabby's family — and that Roberta blocked Nichole's phone number and Facebook profile last September to avoid contact as Nichole sought answers about what happened to Gabby.

"Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct which constitutes behavior, under the circumstances, which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community," the filing, which was obtained by PEOPLE, reads.

20 of 21

Laundrie's Attorney Releases Notebook Confession

Brian laundrie
Courtesy of Steven Bertolino

In June 2022, the attorney for Brian Laundrie's family released a notebook found near Brian body in which Laundrie admits killing Petito.

"I ended her life," wrote Laundrie in the notebook, which was found in October 2021 after his death by suicide.

"I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made," Laundrie wrote. "I panicked. I was in shock. But from the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldn't go on without her."

In the notebook, which was provided to PEOPLE by attorney Steven Bertolino, Laundrie referred to Petito's death as an "unexpected tragedy."

He claimed Petito was injured while the couple rushed back to their car before it got too dark to see and tried to cross a stream. Laundrie claimed Petito had a "small bump on her forehead that eventually got larger" as well as other injuries, and that she was "begging for an end to her pain."

A lawyer for the Petito family, Patrick Reilly, told PEOPLE that Laundrie's assertion that the killing was merciful and stemmed from a "tragic accident" is "nonsense."

21 of 21

Judge Denies Motion by Laundries to Dismiss Suit

Chris Laundrie
Chris Laundrie, pictured Thursday assisting police in their search. Backgrid

On June 30, 2022, a Florida circuit court judge denied a motion from the Laundrie family to dismiss the civil lawsuit filed by Gabby's family.

The lawsuit alleges that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie knew the whereabouts of Gabby's body during the time in which authorities were pouring resources into a massive missing persons investigation.

The Laundrie family sought to dismiss the case, saying that they were not obligated to disclose any information they knew about their son or Gabby.

Judge Hunter Carroll agreed that the Laundrie family was not required to speak about the case — but said the other actions they are accused of by the Petitos, including their public statement in which they said they hoped Gabby was found alive even while they allegedly knew she was dead, were "particularly callous and cruel."

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