Brian Laundrie sent text messages to try and make police think Gabby Petito was still alive, says FBI

‘Timing and content of these messages are indicative of Laundrie’s attempt to deceive law enforcement’

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Friday 21 January 2022 22:02
FBI holds press conference on Gabby Petito after finding human remains
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Brian Laundrie sent text messages to Gabby Petito’s phone to try and make the authorities think the murdered young woman was still alive, the FBI has revealed.

As the FBI concluded its investigation into her murder and made clear there was no plan to charge Laundries’ parents in connection with her disappearance, the FBI said it had examined text messages sent by Laundrie to his fiancée’s phone after he had murdered her.

“After Ms Petito’s death, there were several text messages identified between Mr Laundrie’s telephone and Ms Petito’s telephone,” said the final report.

“The timing and content of these messages are indicative of Mr Laundrie attempting to deceive law enforcement by giving the impression that Ms Petito was still alive.”

The authorities said they had also examined Laundrie’s belongings and found among them a notebook in which the 24-year-old confessed to killing her.

Ms Petito was reported missing by her mother in early September 2021 by her mother, Nicole Schmidt, after she had not heard from her daughter for several weeks. She said that she was uncertain a final message purportedly sent by her daughter was actually from her.

Police launched a massive hunt for the young woman, who had been travelling with Landrie in a white Ford Transit van and posting updates of their adventures visiting some of the country’s national parks onto YouTube.

Her remains were eventually found on September 19 at the Spread Creek campsite located 20 miles north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A post-mortem examination indicated she had died as a result of “blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation”.

Laundrie had already returned to Florida alone, where he refused to speak to police and his family hired a lawyer. In the middle of September, Laundrie’s parents reported that he had gone missing as well.

A search found his remains a month later at a nature reserve close the home in Florida where the couple had lived. Officials said he had shot himself in the head at close range.

“Upon further search of the area, investigators found human remains later confirmed to be Mr Laundrie, along with a backpack, notebook, and a revolver,” the FBI said in a statement issued on Friday.

“A review of the notebook revealed written statements by Mr Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms Petito’s death.”

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FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider, said in a statement that “all logical investigative steps have been concluded in this case”.

He added: “The investigation did not identify any other individuals other than Brian Laundrie directly involved in the tragic death of Gabby Petito.

“The FBI’s primary focus throughout the investigation was to bring justice to Gabby and her family. The public’s role in helping us in this endeavour was invaluable as the investigation was covered in the media around the world.”

In its own statement Ms Petito’s family thanked the FBI for its work.

“We truly appreciate the FBI’s diligent and painstaking efforts in this extremely complicated case,” it said.

“The quality and quantity of the facts and information collected by the FBI leave no doubt the Brian Laundrie murdered Gabby.”

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