A camper who believes she saw Brian Laundrie around the time Gabby Petito went missing said she saw him “acting weird.”
Jessica Schultz tipped the FBI on the location where a body was found, which authorities thought belonged to the travel vlogger.
The FBI and the Petito family’s lawyer confirmed Tuesday that the remains belonged to 22-year-old Petito.
A tipster who said she pointed the FBI in the right direction to find the remains of Gabby Petito said she saw a man she believed to be Brian Laundrie “acting weird” near the campsite where her body was found.
Jessica Schultz, a camper who visited the Grand Teton National Park in late August, said she saw a young man who appeared to be Laundrie driving alone near the Spread Creek camping area two days after Petito’s mother said she last spoke to her.
Schultz told the San Francisco Chronicle that on August 26 she was driving behind a slow-moving white van that she later said she believed to belong to Petito and Laundrie. When the van pulled over in an area that wasn’t a designated pull-out, Schultz said she drove off the road to get around.
When looking into the car as she passed, she said she noticed the driver, whom she described as a “generic” young white man, was alone. She said she saw the van again on August 27 and 28 without the man or anyone else around it, adding that she and the group of other campers she was with sensed that the van didn’t belong because it wasn’t in a designated parking spot.
“He was just acting weird,” Schultz told the Chronicle. “You know, when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, your hackles go up when you see something that’s out of the ordinary.”
Schultz said she saw a straw hat on the dashboard of the van upon a closer look, and she was convinced that the man she saw was Laundrie after her friend sent her a photo with the distinctive hat.
“My friend texted me a picture of the hat on the dashboard and I just lost my shit,” Schultz said. “And that’s when I called the FBI and said, ‘Guys, look at Spread Creek.'”
Earlier this year, Petito and Laundrie set out on a cross-country road trip, which was expected to conclude in Oregon in October. Her mother reported her missing on September 11, after Laundrie returned to Florida alone.
On September 19, a body that authorities believed was “consistent with the description” of Petito was later found in the national park near the Spread Creek camping site. On Tuesday, the FBI and the Petito family’s lawyer confirmed that the remains belonged to Petito.
Schultz told the Chronicle that the FBI agent she gave the tip to told her that the agency “talked to hundreds of people, but you guys are the ones that really tipped us off to the right place,” and thanked her for the information.
“We’re triumphant. We were right and we led them in the right direction,” she said. “But then, of course, it’s not something you like to be right about. It’s been emotionally exhausting for sure.”
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