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Woman Who Claims To Have Picked Up Brian Laundrie Hitchhiking Says His Mood Shifted Near Wyoming Camp Site
Norma Jean Jalovec said there was nothing extraordinary about the man she believes was Brian Laundrie until they drove closer to the camping area where Gabby Petito's body was later discovered.
The second woman who came forward to say she had given Brian Laundrie a ride while he was hitchhiking in Wyoming last month said she noticed “nothing extraordinary about him” until they drove closer to the van he shared with Gabby Petito.
Norma Jean Jalovec, 52, told People that Laundrie become "agitated” when she asked him whether he wanted her to pull past the gate and into the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area while she was giving him a ride on the evening of August 29. This was the same location where Petito’s body would be discovered weeks later by investigators.
“He was like ‘No, no, no, no, no. This is fine,’’ she said, describing Launderie as having become antsy.
Laundrie then insisted that she let him out and “literally was getting out of the passenger seat” as she tried to pull her car over, she told the outlet.
“He said, ‘Just let me out here. You can let me out here,’” Jalovec added.
As she was provided new details of her encounter to the news outlet Jalovec said she found his request unusual because Laundrie would still have to walk several miles to get to his van — which is where he allegedly told her that his girlfriend was waiting.
"I said, 'Oh, you don't want your fiancée to see you being dropped off out of an SUV. You want her to think you hiked all the way back,’” she recalled. “But now we all know, obviously there was a reason why he probably didn’t want me to go down that road.”
Petito’s body was discovered in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Grand Teton National Park on Sept. 19, weeks after her family had last heard from the 22-year-old. A medical examiner later determined she had died of a homicide, according to the FBI.
Her mother, Nichole Schmidt, told ABC News that she last spoke to her daughter on Aug. 25, as the couple was heading to the national park.
Authorities believe Petito may have been killed sometime between Aug. 27 and Aug. 30.
Laundrie returned home, alone, to Florida in the couple’s converted camper van on Sept. 1 and disappeared earlier this month himself. He was named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance prior to her remains being discovered. He has not been named a suspect in Petito's death.
While first recounting her story to Fox News, Jalovec said she realized that Laundrie was the person she had picked up hitchhiking after watching Miranda Baker’s viral TikTok videos.
Baker had described picking a man she believed to be Laundrie up around 5:44 p.m. on Aug. 29 after he asked for a ride to “Jackson.”
Baker said the man “freaked out” on the drive about the direction they were traveling and asked to be let out of the vehicle. Baker and her boyfriend dropped him off at 6:09 p.m. at the Jackson Dam turnout.
“Why he became agitated, I don’t know,” she said in another video. “He was just very set on getting out of the car, which is why we pulled out by the dam and that’s why he got out.”
He told the couple he planned to get a ride from someone else in a nearby crowded parking lot.
Jalovec, who splits her time between Wyoming and Florida, said Laundrie approached her around 6:15 p.m. or 6:20 p.m. outside the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, which is just over a mile from where Baker said she had dropped him off.
“He was scruffy when he got into the car and he smelled,” Jalovec told People.
Although he first asked for a ride to Jackson, Jalovec said she told him that was out of her way and agreed instead to take him to Spread Creek.
Much like Baker’s account, Jalovec said Laundrie told her he had spent the last few days hiking alone along Snake River while his fiancé had stayed behind at the van to work on the couple’s website.
"He was right next to me in the passenger seat," she recalled. "He just looked like a young kid hitchhiking who had been hiking in a park. There was nothing extraordinary about him."
According to Jalovec, Laundrie offered to give her money for the ride — although he never provided a specific dollar amount. Baker said Laundrie had offered to give her $200.
The ride seemed uneventful until Laundrie began to get nervous near the gate of the camping area and asked to be let out around 6:40 p.m.
Jalovec said she now believes she could be “the last person to see him” before he left Spread Creek to return to Florida and said she’s already spoken with the FBI about the experience.
Back in Florida, investigators continue to search for Laundrie, who disappeared on Sept. 14 after telling his parents that he planned to go hiking in Florida’s Carlton Reserve.
"The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies and Social Media" will air on Oxygen on Monday, January 24 at 9/8c. It's also available to stream on Peacock now.