Another clue in the disappearance of Gabby Petito… but will it help investigators piece together what happened?
The 22-year-old was in the middle of a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, something she’d been documenting on her YouTube and Instagram pages, when she simply stopped posting and responding to her friends and family.
Brian returned home to Florida on September 1, with the van but no Gabby. After his girlfriend was reported missing, he immediately lawyered up and has refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Since the initial reports, we’ve learned piece by piece new bits of information about their road trip gone wrong.
For instance, on August 12 the couple were actually confronted by police after eyewitnesses reported seeing a physical altercation between the two. Ultimately the couple were temporarily separated to cool off; cops wrote it off as a “mental health crisis.”
The next day, August 13, was the last time newlyweds Crystal Turner and Kylen Schulte were seen alive before being found partially clothed and dead of multiple gunshot wounds. That mystery intersects with this one as Gabby and Brian’s fight was apparently outside the food co-op where Schulte worked. Two unsolved cases in such close proximity? Could be a coincidence, but police have not yet ruled out that they could be connected.
Unfortunately things get fuzzier as we get closer to the last time anyone spoke to Gabby on August 25 — and the week between that and Brian arriving home by himself.
However, with the news of the case reaching a national audience now, we’re bound to get witnesses who saw the couple coming forward.
Enter Miranda Baker, a 22-year-old woman from Wyoming who claims to actually have met Brian on August 29!
In a series of TikTok videos, she explained:
“Hi my name is Miranda, and on August 29th, my boyfriend and I picked up Brian at Grand Teton National Park at 5.30pm at night at Colter Bay.”
He was hitchhiking? Alone? Where was Gabby? Where was the van??
Miranda actually mentions Gabby in another video, explaining that Brian told her the couple were camping not on a regulated campsite but in the middle of nowhere, somewhere along the Snake River. Remember, this is on August 29 — and he’s saying she’s still with him and still safe. Wow.
She didn’t 100% trust his story though because he’d told her and her boyfriend that he had been hiking for days along the river, but he didn’t have any gear or food — and she noted he didn’t look dirty or sweaty like she’d expect if someone had just been hiking for days in the wilderness.
Other info of note: neither Miranda nor her boyfriend saw him use a phone the entire car trip. And while she described him as “nice” there was a moment that got “weird.” Apparently he had asked to go to Jackson, and at some point Miranda mentioned they were going to Jackson Hole (which she clarifies are the same thing). In any case she says he “freaked out”:
“Once I said ‘Jackson Hole’ he became agitated. He seemed like he needed to get out, he became antsy. That’s when things got weird. That’s when we pulled over.”
Instead of taking him all the way into town they dropped him off at the Jackson Lake Dam, where he told them he would continue to hitchhike.
In another video Miranda revealed she even had a full log of her trip with Brian! Whoa, so useful!
Why did they track the short trip on her phone? Because when she texted her mother to tell her she’d picked up a hitcher, the response she got back was:
“Do you want to get killed? Unblock your phone so I can track you for the police!”
Dang. Protective momma for the win!
Innerestingly Miranda texted to her mom right after dropping off the unexpected passenger:
“Not dead. He had to get back to his wife.”
Well, in one of Gabby’s IG posts, she does mention Brian popping the question and having said yes. Is it possible they eloped during their trip? Perhaps during a detour to Las Vegas??
In any case, this is the closest account chronologically we’ve gotten to Gabby’s disappearance. Just three days after the ride, Brian was apparently back in Florida all alone. Huh.
Miranda made it clear she did give all this information to the police and the FBI already, she isn’t just posting on TikTok for attention. Why post at all? She explains:
“I’m hoping this can help someone identify him, because I saw him from TikTok, which then made me call the authorities, and my boyfriend and I have been in contact with a bunch of different people to help piece together different parts of this case.”
Good point! In the age of social media and trackers on phones, it’s much harder to fall off the grid!
Do YOU think TikTok will help solve this case??
[Image via Miranda Baker/TikTok/Moab Police Department/FOX 13/YouTube.]