What happened to Gabby Petito? Timeline of disappearance, death, search for Brian Laundrie

Sarasota County

You can find the latest on the investigation involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie here. Download the WFLA app for breaking news push alerts and sign up for breaking news email alerts.

TAMPA (WFLA) – In social media posts, 22-year-old Gabby Petito referred to a cross-country road trip with her 23-year-old fiancé Brian Laundrie as “van life.”

What was supposed to be a dream trip for the young couple turned into a nightmare for Petito’s parents after police say Laundrie returned to North Port in her white Ford van alone. Petito has since been found dead in Wyoming while Laundrie himself has gone missing.

This is a timeline of what we know about the disappearance of and death of Gabby Petito, and the search for Brian Laundrie:

July 2: Petito and Laundrie start road trip

Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito and Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York on Long Island on July 2 for a cross-country road trip to national parks out west in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

They documented their travels every step of the way in photos and videos posted to YouTube and Instagram under the name “Nomadic Statik.”

Aug. 12: Argument in Utah

On Aug. 12, Petito posted photos twice on Instagram from a visit to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.

That same day, 8 On Your Side learned Moab City police responded to a witness report of an argument and physical altercation involving the couple. Moab police decided the fight didn’t rise to the level of “domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis.”

Police recommended the couple spend the night apart. Petito stayed with the van. Police helped Laundrie get a hotel room at a family crisis center in Moab.

Aug. 17: Laundrie flies home

According to the Laundrie family’s attorney, Brian Laundrie flew home to Tampa from Salt Lake City on Aug. 17.

“Brian flew home to obtain some items and empty and close the storage unit to save money as they contemplated extending the road trip,” attorney Steve Bertolino said.

Aug. 21: Petito’s last FaceTime with her father

Nine days after the reported incident in Moab, on Aug. 21, Joseph Petito said he had his last FaceTime call with his daughter. He said he helped order her food in Salt Lake City.

“No red flags that popped out,” Mr. Petito later said in a Zoom interview. “I’m trying to wrap my brain – Monday morning quarterback it, you know what I mean – still nothing is popping in my head.”

Aug. 23: Laundrie returns to Salt Lake City

Brian Laundrie returned to Salt Lake City to “rejoin Gabby” on Aug. 23 after flying home to Tampa to empty and close a storage unit, according to his family’s attorney.

“To my knowledge, Brian and Gabby paid for the flights as they were sharing expenses,” the Laundrie family’s attorney said.

Aug. 25: Petito’s last phone conversation with mother

Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, said during an emotional news conference she last spoke with her daughter on Aug. 25 while she was near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

“I wasn’t getting responses,” Schmidt said. “I believe she was in a place with no service. It was like day eight and nine I became really concerned. I figured she couldn’t be off the grid that long.”

Aug. 27: Petito sends ‘odd text’ to mom

Jenn Bethune/ Red, White and Bethune

According to a search warrant obtained by 8 On Your Side, Petito’s mom received an “odd text” from her daughter on Aug. 27 that left her worried something was wrong. The warrant states it was the “last communication anyone had” with Petito.

Family travel bloggers “Red, White and Bethune” said they saw Petito’s white van in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area of Wyoming around 6 p.m. on Aug. 27.

A restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming called The Merry Piglets confirmed the couple visited on Aug. 27. Diners and managers recalled an unspecified “incident” involving the couple.

Aug. 30: Petito’s mom says she gets final text

The search warrant that references the “odd text” on Aug. 27 makes no mention of an Aug. 30 text, but Petito’s mother previously spoke about receiving a text that day.

“The last text I got from her was on Aug. 30,” Schmidt said. “I don’t know if that was her texting me or not.”

Aug. 30 – Sept. 1: Laundrie uses debit card

According to federal court documents, Laundrie is accused of using a Capitol One Bank debit card and a personal identification number for two bank accounts between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 in Wyoming and elsewhere. Using the accounts, he obtained “things of value aggregating to $1,000 or more,” documents show.

A federal grand jury indicted Laundrie for use of unauthorized access devices “related to [his] activities following the death of” Gabby Petito and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Sept. 1: Laundrie returns home to Florida

North Port police, the lead agency in the Gabby Petito missing person investigation, said Brian Laundrie returned to his parent’s home with the van on Sept. 1.

According to a search warrant, a license plate reader at the Sumter Boulevard exit of I-75 detected the white van entering the City of North Port at approximately 10:26 a.m.

Sept. 4: Laundrie gets new phone

Brian Laundrie purchased a new phone and opened an account with AT&T on Sept. 4, according to family attorney Steven Bertolino.

When asked if Laundrie had a phone while traveling out west with Petito, Bertolino told 8 On Your Side he didn’t know.

Sept. 6: Laundrie family camping trip

According to public records obtained by 8 On Your Side, Brian Laundrie’s mother checked into a campground at Ft. De Soto Park on Sept. 6. The record of registered campers shows Roberta Laundrie checked into “Site 001-Waterfront” between Sept. 6 and Sept. 8.

According to the Laundrie’s family attorney Steven Bertolino, the family camped from Sept. 6 through Sept. 7 and they all left the park together.

Sept. 10: Petito’s family calls North Port police

Gabby Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt called the North Port Police Department on Sept. 10, hoping to file a missing person report, according to a department spokesperson. North Port police told the family they had to file the report in her last known location was, not in North Port, because of department policy and Florida law.

Sept. 11: Petito reported missing

Concerned family members reported Gabby Petito missing to Suffolk County Police in New York on Sept. 11.

Later that night, North Port police confirmed they recovered the van at Brian Laundrie’s parents’ home. Police said the young couple also lived there.

When North Port police visited the Laundrie’s home that night, they did not speak to or see Brian, and the family only handed over information for their attorney, a spokesperson said.

Sept. 13: Laundrie leaves home

The attorney for Brian Laundrie’s family confirmed on Oct. 5 that the 23-year-old’s parents now believe they saw him leave home to go hiking on Sept. 13 – one day earlier than they had originally told police.

“The Laundries were basing the date Brian left on their recollection of certain events,” Steve Bertolino said. “Upon further communication with the FBI and confirmation of the Mustang being at the Laundrie residence on Wednesday, Sept. 15, we now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday, Sept. 13.”

North Port officers said Laundrie is believed to have entered the Carlton Reserve at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.

Sept. 14: Abandoned vehicle notice

Brian Laundrie’s family originally said he was last seen on Sept. 14 when he left home wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap, according to police.

According to North Port police, an abandoned vehicle notice was placed on the Laundries’ Mustang outside the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on Sept. 14 at 2:42 p.m. ET.

Sept. 15: Laundrie named person of interest

Brian Laundrie was officially named a “person of interest” in Gabby Petito’s disappearance by North Port police on Sept. 15 as he refused to cooperate with the investigation.

According to the Laundrie family’s attorney, the Mustang was back outside the family home.

Sept. 16: Petito’s family begs for help

During a North Port police news conference on Sept. 16, Chief Todd Garrison voiced his frustration with the lack of answers on Gabby Petito’s disappearance.

(WFLA photo)

“Two people went on a trip. One person returned. And that person that returned isn’t providing us any information,” he said.

Garrison added that there was no criminality suspected in the case at the time and police were only investigating a missing person case with the sole focus of finding Petito.

A reporter asked Chief Garrison at the news conference, “do you know where Brian Laundrie is right now?” Garrison responded, “yes.”

Petito’s father spoke during the news conference, begging anyone with information, including family and friends of the Laundrie family, to come forward.

Later in the day, a family attorney in New York read a letter from Petito’s family to Laundrie’s parents that called on them for help.

Sept. 17: Laundrie reported missing

A family attorney for the Laundries confirmed Sept. 17 that the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie were unknown.

“The FBI is currently at the Laundrie residence removing property to assist in locating Brian. As of now, the FBI is now looking for both Gabby and Brian,” the attorney said in a statement.

That statement came after police spent more than two hours at the Laundrie family home, at the family’s request.

Sept. 18: Search for Laundrie

North Port police and the FBI started searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County on Sept. 18 for Brian Laundrie.

The initial search focused on the 200 acres at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, where Taylor said Laundrie is believed to have entered the reserve. The search then expanded into the Carlton Reserve, which encompasses 25,000 acres.

Sept. 19: Body found in Wyoming

FBI officials announced Sept. 19 that a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Gabby Petito’s description.

A full forensic identification had not yet been completed to confirm the identity of the remains 100% but North Port police tweeted they were “saddened and heartbroken to learn that Gabby has been found deceased.”

Sept. 20: Police tape off Laundrie home

Police officers and FBI agents swarmed the Laundrie family home on Sept. 20. A statement from the FBI said agents were “executing a court-authorized search” at the home related to the Gabby Petito investigation.

(Eagle 8/WFLA photo)

Earlier in the day, North Port police said they had no plans to conduct a major search of the Carlton Reserve on Sept. 20. They said, however, agencies would continue their search for Brian Laundrie.

Sept. 21: Laundrie search continues, Petito identified

Law enforcement agencies resumed their search for Brian Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve on Sept. 21.

The autopsy on the remains found in Wyoming also started Sept. 21 and confirmed the body found near Grand Teton was, in fact, Gabby Petito. A coroner’s initial determination for the manner of death was homicide.

Sept. 23: Federal arrest warrant issued

A federal arrest warrant was issued for Brian Laundrie on Sept. 23. The warrant came after a federal grand jury indicted Laundrie for his activities following Gabby Petito’s death.

Sept. 24: Dog the Bounty Hunter joins search

“Dog the Bounty Hunter” visited the family home of Brian Laundrie on Sept. 24. The reality TV personality, whose real name is Duane Chapman, urged the public to share tips by calling 833-TELL-DOG.

Sept. 25: FBI visits Laundrie family home

The FBI took personal items belonging to Brian Laundrie on Sept. 25 to aid in the ongoing investigation into his whereabouts, according to the family’s attorney.

Sept. 26: Laundrie search scales back

Police announced Sept. 26 the ongoing search for Brian Laundrie would be “scaled back and targeted.”

Laundrie’s family attorney released a statement that said his parents do not know where he is and are concerned.

“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,” Steve Bertolino said.

Sept. 29: FBI obtains Laundrie’s phone, surveillance video

The Laundrie family’s attorney confirmed on Sept. 29 that the FBI was in possession of the new phone Brian Laundrie had purchased on Sept. 4. Attorney Steven Bertolino said Laundrie left the phone home the day he left for a hike in the Carlton Reserve – the last time his family has said they saw him.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed Sept. 29 it had turned over surveillance video from Fort De Soto campground from the time when the Laundrie family visited. The video was given to the FBI.

Sept. 30: Agents check camper

Two agents with the FBI visited the Laundrie family’s North Port home on Sept. 30. The agents spent time in the house, and briefly went into the family’s camper in the driveway, before leaving with a bag.

The family’s attorney told WFLA the visit was to “collect some personal items belonging to Brian that will assist the canines in their search for Brian.”

Oct. 6: Laundrie search ramps up at Carlton Reserve

Activity ramped back up at the Carlton Reserve on Oct. 6 after several days of a more scaled-back search for Brian Laundrie. Several unmarked law enforcement vehicles were seen at the nature reserve, and a large drone was spotted flying above.

According to family attorney Steve Bertolino, Brian’s dad Chris Laundrie was supposed to join the search at the reserve but the involvement had to be postponed.

Oct. 7: Brian Laundrie’s dad joins search

Chris Laundrie joined the search for his son on Oct. 7. The father left his North Port home that morning and headed to the Carlton Reserve to assist law enforcement, according to the family’s attorney.

“Chris was asked to point out any favorite trails or spots that Brian may have used in the preserve,” he said. “Although Chris and Roberta Laundrie provided this information verbally three weeks ago, it is now thought that on-site assistance may be better.”

Oct. 12: Petito’s cause of death released

The Teton County coroner confirmed Gabby Petito’s cause of death was strangulation, with the manner of death ruled a homicide, on Oct. 12. It is believed she died three to four weeks before her body was found, according to the coroner’s findings.

The FBI has set up a national hotline to receive tips about Petito’s disappearance. Those with information are being asked to call 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324). 

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