Gabby Petito: Officials Uncover Identity of Hiker on Trail Cam After Speculation It Was Brian Laundrie

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Upon further investigation, the man suspected as Brian Laundrie seen on a North Florida trail camera is in fact a local resident. Police in Okaloosa County confirmed via social media that the man seen on the Baker, Fla. trail camera was not Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the disappearance and homicide of his fiancée Gabby Petito.

“The Okaloosa County Sheriff has confirmed the man is an Okaloosa County resident who acknowledged he was the one walking on the deer trail carrying his backpack,” the department stated on Facebook, according to the Daily Mail. “The private citizen has been located and a positive identification has been made.”

Police did not release the identity of the individual, but the post stated that several deputies were familiar with the resident and noticed his neck tattoo, leading to his identification.

Sam Bass, the trail cam’s owner, noticed the man on Sept. 20 and reported him to police as possibly being Brian Laundrie. Initially, the OCSO searched the surrounding area and found “no one–and nothing–of note.”

Officials Resume Search for Brian Laundrie in Carlton Reserve

On Wednesday, police in tandem with divers from the Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Force continued the search in Carlton Reserve for Brian Laundrie. The search turned up no evidence that Laundrie was in the reserve or that he even entered the area; North Port police tweeted, “Nothing found. We will be back out Thursday, similar operation.”

Laundrie reportedly went for a hike in Carlton Reserve on Sept. 14, but there are no witnesses or signs that he actually entered the area. He has been missing since then, with numerous alleged sightings cropping up across Florida and Alabama.

Gabby Petito’s Death Ruled Homicide

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, coroners in Wyoming performed an autopsy on the remains found in Grand Teton National Park on Sunday, Sept. 19. They identified Gabby Petito and ruled her death a homicide. They did not disclose the manner in which she died.

Additionally, these are only preliminary findings; a full autopsy report could take up to six weeks. The rate of decomposition of remains contributes to the accuracy of an autopsy; it is unknown how long Gabby Petito’s body was in the elements. Her mother reports last hearing from her on Aug. 25 and receiving text messages after that. She says she can’t be sure the messages were from her daughter, as they seemed strange and inconsistent with Gabby’s usual behavior.

A large memorial has been growing outside of city hall in North Port, Fla. Officials reserved it as a permanent memorial. A family friend also set up a GoFundMe for the family on Sept. 12, and it has raised over $82,000. “We will use these funds to continue to cover the general expenses incurred by the search and efforts to find and bring Gabby home,” the fund’s page states, started by longtime friend of Gabby Petito’s family Gary Rider.

The page made sure to thank donators, family, and friends, stating, “We still do not have the words that seem appropriate to truly express how grateful we are and how uplifting this support has been during this challenging time.”