Cross-country van road trip ends in homicide


Gabby Petito's Instagram post

Gabby Petitio Posing in Zion National Park, one of the stops on her and Laundrie’s van road trip.

Gabie McConnell, Staff Writer

22-year-old Gabrielle Petitio was reported missing on Sept. 11 after Petitio did not return home with her fiance Brian Laundrie after their cross-country road trip. The couple started their trip on July 2 leaving from N.Y. on what was supposed to be a four-month-long trip to several famous national parks in the U.S. 

Petito was a “van-influencer” who documented her trips cross-country in her and Laundrie’s van. Being an influencer has led to the unprecedented exposure of her story as she documented many aspects of her journey on Instagram and YouTube. They took selfies in front of the most scenic places in the U.S., portraying what some would call an idyllic lifestyle. However, Utah Police have released dashcam footage of a traffic stop taken from a reported domestic dispute involving the couple that contrasts this ideal lifestyle. 

According to CBS News, “A 911 call is placed by someone who reports seeing a confrontation between Gabby and Brian. The caller said he saw Laundrie hit Petito. Police in Moab, Utah, are dispatched and pull the van over. It is unclear if they knew the details of the 911 call. Police bodycam video shows Petito crying and upset. The police report says that Petito hit Laundrie, but no arrests were made. The couple is separated for the night – Laundrie checks into a hotel and Petito stays in the van.” 

On Sept. 1, 2021, Laundrie returned home without Petitio. Subsequently, Petitio was reported missing on Sept. 11, 2021. A few days later, Laundries’ parents tell police they have not seen Laundrie in three days. The following day, a search for Laundrie began in the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota, Fla. On Sept. 19, 2021, remains were found in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, where their van had been spotted previously. 

According to CBS News, On Sept. 21, 2021, “A coroner confirms that the remains found in Wyo. is Gabby Petito and determined the initial manner of death is homicide. The FBI announces they are taking over the criminal investigation, and authorities continue to search for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve.” 

As of Sept. 27, 2021, North Point police have scaled back their search efforts so they can focus on a few specific spots in the Carlton Reserve. A federal court in Wyo. has issued an arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie in relation to a grand jury indictment for his “activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito,” said the FBI on Thursday, Sept. 23. 

The Family of Gabby Petito has also announced the creation of the Gabby Petitio Foundation. To donate to this Foundation visit