The Brian Laundrie Manhunt Was Eerily Similar To Another Case

The case of Gabby Petito gained national attention when she was reported missing on September 11, 2021. Petito, 22, had been on a road trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, 23, that started in June 2021. Throughout their trip, Petito updated her family on their whereabouts and posted photos and videos on her social media accounts. In August, the couple was in Utah and a witness called the authorities and reported a couple having a heated altercation wherein the man slapped the woman. As noted by CNN, when the police arrived at the scene, Petito was emotional, but after assessing the situation, authorities believed that there was no domestic violence involved.

In late August, a couple claimed that they witnessed Petito and Laundrie having an argument as they left a restaurant in Wyoming. Petito was said to be crying while Laundrie was visibly angry. According to Petito's family, she was last in contact with them in the last week of August via FaceTime and text messages. The final message was sent on August 30, but her family noted that it didn't seem like Petito wrote the message herself.

Gabby Petito was reported missing

As reported by the Herald-Tribune, on September 1, Brian Laundrie returned to Florida where she and Gabby Petito lived with his parents, but he was alone. Petito's family had not received any communication from her, and she also stopped updating her social media accounts. They reported her missing on September 11, and a few days later, authorities named Laundrie a person of interest, as they believed he was the last one in contact with Petito.

Authorities stated that Laundrie was not cooperative in the investigation from the start and refused to be questioned. Laundrie's attorney issued a statement and said that he is only following his counsel's advice not to speak about Petito's case, as reported by ABC 7. In a press conference, Petito's father asked for help from the public and pleaded with Laundrie to cooperate with the investigators. In response, Laundrie's sister spoke publicly and said that her family wants Petito's safe return as well, and she hoped what happened was just "a big misunderstanding."

Brian Laundrie went missing as well

On September 17, Brian Laundrie's family reported him missing as well. Authorities declared that despite being a person of interest, Laundrie was not a wanted man, and their goal was for both him and Gabby Petito to be found, as reported by People. Just a few days later, Petito's body was found near a national park in Wyoming, and the coroner's report listed strangulation as her cause of death. An arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie, who was still missing at that point.

Laundrie's parents said that they last saw him on September 14 with a hiking bag, and authorities searched for him in possible areas he may have gone to. Many people who were following the case shared their opinions about Laundrie's disappearance, and one of the names that kept popping up in comparison was Eric Rudolph, also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, as noted by Fox News. People believed that Laundrie had gone into hiding in the wilderness to live off the radar, and it was a big possibility, as he was used to living outdoors and was somewhat of a survivalist, which was similar to what Rudolph did.

Who was the Olympic Park Bomber?

On July 27, 1996, a bomb went off at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta where the Summer Olympics were being held, which left more than a hundred injured and one dead. The FBI didn't immediately identify the perpetrator, and he went on to plant more bombs, two in abortion clinics in Atlanta and Alabama, and in a bar in Atlanta. The bomber was finally identified by the FBI as Eric Rudolph, and he was added to the bureau's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives in 1998.

By the time he was identified, however, Rudolph had already fled to the Nantahala National Forest to go into hiding. As reported by Blue Ridge Outdoors, Rudolph was used to living off-the-grid, as that was how his family lived during his teenage years. The FBI painstakingly searched for the fugitive, and after years of no results, they entertained the possibility that he died in the wilderness. In 2003, however, a cop came across a man going through the garbage behind a grocery store, and he ran away as the officer approached. He was eventually apprehended, and he turned out to be Rudolph, who had survived living in the wilderness for five years (via ABC News).

Brain Laundrie was found dead

Although Brian Laundrie and Eric Rudolph both went to the wilderness and the searches for them were similar, their cases ended differently. As the search for Laundrie continued following his disappearance, his sister appeared on TV pleading with him to turn himself in. "Just come forward and get us out of this horrible mess," she stated, as reported by ABC News. On October 20, investigators discovered a backpack, notebook, and some personal belongings that were confirmed to be Laundrie's at the Carlton Reserve. Close to the pile were skeletal remains that were later confirmed to be the missing man.

According to E! News, Laundrie died by suicide via a gunshot to the head. As the FBI wrapped up the investigation, more information about what happened to Gabby Petito came to light. The notebook found at the location where Laundrie's remains were found held statements claiming that he was responsible for his fiancée's death.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Brian Laundrie's confession

Brian Laundrie's notebook had been in the water, but the writing was still readable. In it, Laundrie claims that Gabby Petito had been injured while they were camping and was in excruciating pain, which pushed him to make the decision to end her life. He continued to write that he thought killing her was the "merciful" thing to do, but he later realized that he made a mistake, per NBC New York. Laundrie also explained his suicide by writing that he could no longer live without Petito.

Several experts shared their opinion about the confession, and they all agreed that Laundrie's claim seemed far-fetched, as reported by Fox News. Furthermore, medical examiner Cyril Wecht, stated that if Laundrie's confession was, indeed, true, it was still considered a crime, as euthanasia — the act of ending someone's life to prevent further suffering — is illegal in the United States.