Brian Laundrie claims responsibility for Gabby’s death in notebook, FBI to close case

Published: January 21, 2022 3:34 PM EST
Updated: January 21, 2022 10:41 PM EST

On Thursday, the family of Gabby Petito met with the FBI at the Tampa Field Office as the investigation will be closed in the near future, according to a statement from the FBI.

They also say after a review of the notebook found near Brian Laundrie’s body, it “revealed written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death.”

“All logical investigative steps have been concluded in this case,” said FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. “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 endeavor was invaluable as the investigation was covered in the media around the world. On behalf of the FBI, I want to express my deepest appreciation to the public for the thousands of tips that were provided during the investigation, and to our local, state and federal law enforcement partners for their work throughout the investigation.”

The FBI opened its investigation into the disappearance of Ms. Petito on September 12, 2021, upon receiving reports from Gabby’s family that Ms. Petito was missing. The FBI, working with federal, state and local officials, organized a search of a remote area within the Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

On September 19, 2021, the search team located the remains of Ms. Petito at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area near where she and Brian Laundrie had been seen together. Ms. Petito was found approximately three weeks after her last known communication. The Teton County Coroner’s Office subsequently concluded Ms. Petito died of “blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation.” While law enforcement investigated all logical leads, the investigation quickly focused on the last person believed to see her alive—Mr. Laundrie.

The Petito family said in a statement through their attorney:

“Gabby’s family would like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, specifically the Wyoming, Denver, New York and Tampa offices, all of their task force members and their assisting agencies.

“Gabby’s family would like to thank the FBI’s Victim Services Department for all they have done for them. Victim Services has been there for support from the earliest stages of this investigation and helped their entire family navigate through the worst moments of their lives.

“We truly appreciate the FBI’s diligent and painstaking efforts in this extremely
complicated case. The quality and quantity of the facts and information collected by the FBI leave no doubt [that] Brian Laundrie murdered Gabby.”

And the Laundrie family attorney released the following statement:

“Gabby and Brian are no longer with their families and this tragedy has caused enormous emotional pain and suffering to all who loved either or both of them. We can only hope that with today’s closure of the case each family can begin to heal and move forward and find peace in and with the memories of their children.

“May Gabby and Brian both rest in peace.”

In October, when Laundrie’s remains were found, investigators also found a notebook nearby. Partial contents of that notebook are being revealed for the first time.

Just three months ago, his remains were found near the area that Brian Laundrie told his family he was going camping. Weeks later, Laundrie’s death was ruled as a suicide.

Now we’re learning that a revolver was found in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park near Laundrie’s remains. And, the FBI says, Brian Laundrie is the only person they identified who was directly involved in Gabby Petito’s death.

WINK News Safety and Security Specialist Rich Kolko says investigators look at every possibility. “Investigators are going to look at anybody who could be a potential suspect… if that person sold them gas, checked them into a hotel, sold them fast food… anybody who came into contact with Brian and Gabby right up to the point she went missing goes into the suspect list,” said Kolko.

But after a months-long investigation, authorities say the evidence points to Laundrie. They believe he may have even tried to trick law enforcement into thinking Gabby was alive when she was dead already. According to the FBI, there were text messages exchanged between his and Gabby’s phones after her death.

Many want to know, and many are wondering if we’ll ever know what Brian wrote in his confession or what all was in that notebook. “It’s also possible that family members either had access to it or were briefed about what was in that notebook. And they may choose to release that information at a time that they’re comfortable,” Kolko said.

The attorney that represents Gabby Petito’s family, in the statement above, thanked everyone who worked on Gabby’s case and said they were left with no doubt that Brian murdered Gabby.

Yet, the FBI has still not said why Laundried killed Petito. “There’s a wide variety of things that it could have been. So, without talking to Brian Laundrie, and that’s certainly not possible anymore, they may never know the specific motive of why he did what he did,” said Kolko.

The following is a timeline of the investigation:

  • The FBI investigation revealed that, between August 30 and September 1, 2021, Mr. Laundrie had used Ms. Petito’s debit card without authorization on his drive back to Florida from Wyoming.
  • After Ms. Petito’s death, there were several text messages identified between Mr. Laundrie’s telephone and Ms. Petito’s telephone. 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.
  • On September 15, 2021, Mr. Laundrie’s Ford Mustang was recovered from the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Park in North Port, Florida.
  • On September 17, 2021, Mr. Laundrie’s parents reported him missing shortly after law enforcement conducted a welfare check at their residence.
  • On September 18, 2021, law enforcement officials commenced an extensive search of the park where Mr. Laundrie’s vehicle was parked and did not locate Mr. Laundrie. The area where Mr. Laundrie’s remains were later found was part of this search area, but the area was submerged due to recent flooding at the time of this initial search.
  • On September 22, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Mr. Laundrie. The warrant was issued pursuant to a Federal Grand Jury indictment for violation of federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(1): “Use of Unauthorized Access Devices” related to Mr. Laundrie’s activities following the death of Ms. Petito.
  • On October 7, 2021, after law enforcement made a request through Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino, the Laundries provided personal effects to law enforcement which were to be used to assist in the search of the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
  • On October 20, 2021, after water had receded from the area and the park was reopened, Mr. Bertolino notified law enforcement that Mr. Laundrie’s parents intended to return to the park to search for Mr. Laundrie. Law enforcement officers were present when Mr. Laundrie’s parents located an item in the park later determined to belong to Mr. Laundrie.
  • Upon further search of the area, investigators found human remains later confirmed to be Mr. Laundrie, along with a backpack, notebook, and a revolver. A review of the notebook revealed written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death.
  • On November 23, 2021, the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office in Sarasota, Florida, released its report on the manner and cause of death of Mr. Laundrie. The report concluded Mr. Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The FBI thanks all the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation including the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Teton County Search and Rescue, Jackson Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Northport Police Department, Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Credit: Gabby Petito via Instagram