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Brian Laundrie: Second woman reveals she picked up missing man hitchhiking

·3 min read
This police camera video shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after he was pulled over (AP)
This police camera video shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after he was pulled over (AP)

Amid the ongoing manhunt for Brian Laundrie, a second woman has come forward to say that she gave him a ride while he was hitchhiking in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park on 29 August.

His fiancé, YouTuber Gabby Petito, was last seen in the region on 27 August at a Tex-Mex restaurant, where they allegedly had an argument.

Norma Jean Jalovec, a resident of Florida, said that she realised that she had picked up Mr Laundrie and dropped him off at the Spread Creek dispersed camping area after seeing a TikTok video.

The missing 22-year-old Youtuber’s remains were discovered from the same area on 19 September, after a week-long nationwide search. The FBI confirmed on 22 September that it was Petito’s body, and have now ruled the death a homicide.

According to Ms Jalovec, Mr Laundrie asked if she was going to Jackson. When she told him that she lives in the opposite direction, he asked her to drop him at the dispersed camping area. “Everything’s legitimate. Everything’s corroborated. I already talked to the FBI,” Ms Jalovec told Fox News.

On 17 September, a woman named Miranda Baker said through TikTok videos that she and her boyfriend had picked up Mr Laundrie on the evening of 29 August.

Federal prosecutors on Thursday indicted 23-year-old Mr Laundrie for alleged “use of unauthorised access devices” and issued an arrest warrant. He is a “person of interest” in the case.

“While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Petito’s homicide,” said Special Agent in charge Michael Schneider. “We urge individuals with knowledge of Mr Laundrie’s role in this matter or his current whereabouts to contact the FBI.”

Mr Laundrie was travelling with Petito on a cross-country road trip when she went missing. On 1 September, he returned to his family’s home in Florida alone with the van the couple had been living in, and ultimately disappeared himself. Days later, when Mr Laundrie’s parents reported his disappearance, a major manhunt was launched, which remains underway.

The search for Mr Laundrie is largely focused on the Carlton Reserve in Florida, which is close to the Laundries’ family home in North Port. Mr Laundrie’s parents say he headed to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which connects with the reserve, for a hike on 14 September. He drove there in a silver Mustang, which they later collected and, according to their account, brought only a backpack with him.

Despite six days of intensive searches, officers have failed to find any trace of the man. On Thursday, a team of divers joined police and FBI agents using boats and helicopters in the search for him in the 25,000-acre swampy Florida reserve.

A former co-worker of his said Mr Laundrie is “well-versed” in surviving in the wild.

Petito’s family went on a frantic search for their daughter after they stopped receiving texts from her and she did not make it back home with Mr Laundrie. Petito’s mother last spoke to her on 25 August.

The police in Utah’s Moab town were called to a possible domestic violence incident after Petito and Mr Laundrie were seen engaging in a heated argument inside their van. After Petito was reported missing, Mr Laundrie’s lawyer released a statement saying his client would not be speaking to authorities “on the advice of counsel”.

The North Port Police, who said Mr Laundrie’s lack of cooperation was “hindering the investigation”, tweeted a plea to the lawyer. The family of Petito had also called on the Laundrie family to help them find their daughter. Instead, Mr Laundrie went missing and has not been seen since 14 September.

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