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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As the search for Brian Laundrie continues in connection with the Gabby Petito investigation, 8 On Your Side is hearing from a man who believes he saw Laundrie in a Montana bar in the days before the 23-year-old returned home alone from the cross-country trip he and his fiancé had been on.
According to attorney Steve Bertolino, Brian Laundrie briefly flew home from Salt Lake City, Utah on Aug. 17. He flew into Tampa for about a week before returning out west to rejoin Petito on Aug. 23, Bertolino says.
Just three days later, on Aug. 26, a man claims he spotted Laundrie alone and angry at a bar in Montana.
The man tells 8 On Your Side it clicked recently when police in Moab, Utah released body camera video of an Aug. 12 incident involving Petito and Laundrie. In that moment, Hunter Mannies says he realized he had spoken with a man – who he believes was Brian Laundrie – at a bar in West Yellowstone, Montana.
“I watched the body cam footage and his body movements, the way he carried himself and his voice, I was a hundred percent sure,” Mannies said.
Mannies says the man appeared angry. The incident left his friend uncomfortable.
He tells 8 On Your Side he spoke with the FBI about it for about 40 minutes on Sept. 16.
“They wanted to know every detail that we could remember of the encounter itself. What he was wearing, how he was acting,” Mannies said.
“I realize this is a pretty extensive investigation and that’s just a very very small piece of a large puzzle. A puzzle that’s just getting bigger and bigger,” he added.
Mannies tells 8 On Your Side he didn’t notice the couple’s white van parked outside Bullwinkle’s Saloon.
“I mean, obviously, we weren’t necessarily looking for it,” he said.
Authorities have not yet confirmed if the bar sighting was credible.
Less than 24 hours after that reported encounter, travel bloggers believe they captured Petito’s van on video more than 110 miles away in Bridger-Teton National Forest. That was Aug. 27 – the same day Petito’s mom reported getting an odd text from her daughter’s phone.