BODYCAM footage of police responding to a violent clash between Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito shows Laundrie handling two cell phones – despite telling cops he has no phone.
When pressed by a Moab police officer about whether he had a cell phone, Laundrie said that he was phoneless and feared he would be without the means to communicate as he and Petito were separated for the night.
"I was holding onto the keys because I didn’t want to go anywhere, and my big fear is, I don’t have my phone,” he said during the interaction with police and park rangers following the couples’ physical feud on Aug. 12.
“I don't really – I don’t have a phone.
“So if she goes off without me [sic], I’m on my own," the 23-year-old explained to the officers.
FETCHING GABBY’S PHONE
The footage, captured 13 days before Gabby was last seen in alive, shows van-life YouTuber sobbing to police after the couple drove the transit van into the curb during a fight.
As Gabby, 22, sat in one of the cop’s SUV units, one of the officers pointed out the cut on her left cheek and red soreness on her left arm, Gabby looked at herself and said “I don’t know.”
The couple drew the pursuit of authorities after they were witnessed getting physical at Moonflower Cafe.
"They were talking aggressively [at] each other [and] something definitely seemed off," one of two witnesses wrote in the statement to police.
Read our Brian Laundrie live blog for the very latest news and updates…
"At one point, they were sort of fighting over a phone – I think the male took the female’s phone.
“It appeared that he didn’t want her in the white van."
Authorities quickly caught up to the couples’ van which was speeding and ended up abruptly crashing into a curb.
Cops quizzed Brian outside of the van.
About 42 minutes into the cop’s bodycam footage where both Brian and Gabby are each interviewed separately, Brian is asked to produce Gabby’s phone.
He is then is escorted a few steps with one of the park rangers to retrieve Gabby’s cellphone from the front passenger side door of the white transit van.
The ranger appears to bring the phone to Gabby.
Moments later she announces: “She’s got her cellphone. She’s calling her parents.”
That device rested on Gabby’s lap during further questioning while she remained seated in the back of a police SUV unit.
PHONE APPEARS ON-CAMERA
Meanwhile, Brian is seen slipping what appears to be a different phone into his pocket, according to video analysis first reported by WFLA.
About 55 minutes into the over hour-long recording, Brian can be seen pulling a phone out of his shorts pocket.
It’s unclear if either of the phones that Brian handled while he was talking with the officers were contractually his.
Authorities decided to not bring charges of domestic violence against either Gabby – whom they suspected was the aggressor – or Brian.
Instead, they made them promise to separate for the night; with Brian getting a motel room and Gabby taking the van.
When asked if she had anything she wanted to say to Brian before they were to be separated, she said: "Make sure he doesn’t forget a phone charger."
Petito returned from the cross-country trip alone weeks later on September 1, before vanishing from his family's Florida home as cops searched for Gabby – whose remains were found in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, on September 19.
Ten days before he vanished, Brian bought a new cell phone from a local North Port, Florida AT&T store.
The Laundrie family’s attorney Steve Bertolino confirmed that phone was in the possession of the FBI.
Gabby’s last interaction with her mom, Nicole Schmidt involved her receiving an odd last text before communications stopped.
In the August 27 text to her parents, the vlogger wrote: "Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls."
Some speculate the text was code and alluding to Eminem's son Stan and that Gabby was crying for help.
Bertolino insists that the phone wasn’t a burner phone but that Brian utilized an account with AT&T for the new device, according to WFLA.
VAN LIFE TRIP ENDS IN DEATH
The couple was around two months into their planned four-month cross-country road trip touring the US’ national parks before Gabby vanished sometime around August 27.
The young woman’s death was ruled a homicide.
The speed suggests that there are likely "visible signs of trauma consistent with an attack" Jennifer Shen, retired San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory Director, told The Sun.
The investigation into Gabby's murder continues and the official cause of death hasn’t been released.
WARRANT FOR BRIAN
The police footage was released amid an ongoing frantic search for Brian, who disappeared from his parents' Florida home days after returning from their cross-country vacation without her on September 1.
Gabby, who had been traveling across the country with Brian in their camper van since July 2, was last known to have been visiting Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on August 25.
She was officially reported missing by her mom on September 11, two weeks after she'd last spoken to her daughter on the phone, and ten days after Brian returned home to Florida in Gabby's van without her.
He failed to alert police or Gabby's family that she was missing.
Brian then reportedly vanished on September 14, five days before Gabby's remains were discovered in the Spread Creek Dispersed Campground area, in Grand Teton National Park.
A manhunt has since ensued with Brian being named as a “person of interest” in the homicide death of Gabby's. He’s been missing for more than two weeks and is wanted on a warrant for alleged bank fraud after running up $1,000 in charges on an unauthorized debit card that reportedly belonged to Gabby.
Gabby Petito timeline
Gabby Petito, 22, was last seen on August 24, leaving a hotel in Utah. Here is a timeline of Gabby Petito’s disappearance:
- June 2021 – Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie set off on a cross-country trip across the US.
- July 4 – Gabby posts photos of herself barefoot in Gove County, Kansas.
- July 8 – Gabby posts photos of herself at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
- July 18 – Gabby and Brian post photos of themselves at Utah's Zion National Park.
- August 12 – Body camera footage was released in September showing an encounter Brian and Gabby had with police in Utah. Police confirmed that no significant injuries were reported.
- August 19 – Gabby and Brian post a video on their YouTube channel chronicling their trip.
- August 24 – Gabby is spotted leaving a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- August 25 – Gabby Facetimes her mom, Nichole Schmidt, for the final time. In a later police report, Schmidt said her conversations with her daughter revealed "more and more tension" between her and Brian.
- August 25 – Gabby also posts her last Instagram. No location is given.
- August 27 – Gabby is seen for what's believed to be the final time. Witnesses claim they saw Brian in an explosive argument with staff at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, leaving Gabby in tears.
- August 27 – Four hours later, travel bloggers driving through Grand Teton National Park drive past the couple's van "abandoned" on a dirt road.
- September 1 – Brian returns home to Florida without Gabby.
- September 11 – Gabby's parents report her missing to Suffolk County police.
- September 14 – Brian's family issues a statement saying he has retained an attorney and will not be cooperating with investigators.
- September 14 – Brian is allegedly last seen by his family. He reportedly told them he was going hiking in Cartlon Reserve but failed to return.
- September 15 – Florida's North Port police announce Brian is a person of interest in the case. He is not charged with any crime.
- September 16 – Utah police release body camera footage of the police encounter with Brian and Gabby.
- September 17 – Brian's parents say they have not seen their son in a couple of days and report him missing.
- September 18 – Police announce they were searching Carlton Reserve in Florida for Brian. Police announce they have not found anything.
- September 19 – Authorities in Wyoming say they found a body in Grand Teton National Park. The FBI announces the body was believed to be Gabby's but a full forensic identification needs to be completed first to confirm.
- September 20 – Police execute a search warrant on Laundrie's home, seizing his silver Mustang and a hard drive that may contain "evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed."
- September 21 – Officials announce they will be conducting an autopsy on the remains found in Wyoming to confirm whether or not they belong to Gabby. Police also resumed their search for Laundrie, this time on the Venice side of Carlton Reserve.
- September 21 – The FBI announced the body found in Wyoming was identified as Gabby's. The cause of death was not yet revealed.
- September 21 – The Teton County Coroner's office said Gabby's official cause of death was still pending but the initial manner of death is homicide.
- September 22 – Police continue to scour Carlton Reserve for a trace of Laundrie but yield no leads. A specialist dive team is called in to assist with the hunt.
- September 23 – Officials announced a federal arrest warrant for Brian was issued.
- September 26 – Gabby's funeral was held on Long Island, New York.
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