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A woman claims to have spotted Brian Laundrie alone and “acting weird” in the area where Gabby Petito’s body was later discovered.
Jessica Schultz recounted spotting a “generic” white guy she believes was Laundrie driving slowly through a dispersed camping area called Spread Creek in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming in late August before she said he pulled the van partially over and let her pass, according a series of TikTok videos and an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle.
Schultz, a 38-year-old graphic designer, told the newspaper she saw Laundrie on Aug. 26 as she was driving her Airstream to meet friends in the area. As she passed, she said she saw Laundrie alone in the van.
“He was just acting weird,” she said. “You know, when you’re in the middle of nowhere, your hackles go up when you see something that’s out of the ordinary.”
Schultz said she saw Laundrie get out of the van “to look around or something” as she passed.
“There’s definitely nobody in that passenger seat; like he definitely doesn’t have a girl in there,” she said.
Schultz recalled passing the parked van again on Aug. 27 as she rode by the area with a friend and may have also seen it on Aug. 28—but both times Laundrie was nowhere to be seen.
According to her account, Laundrie had backed the van up into a makeshift parking spot.
“It wasn’t actually parked in a designated spot,” she said on TikTok. “The Spread Creek area is a bunch of designated camping spots and you’re not supposed to camp outside those designated spots and this van was not in a real spot so I figured they’d get booted by the people that patrol the area.”
She said the “weirdest part about it” was that there was no sign that anybody was actually camping in the van.
“Usually, small van people have their doors open, they’re outside, they have a hammock, something, but we didn’t see any signs of actual life at the van,” she said.
Schultz reported the sighting to the FBI last week but said she wasn’t able to confirm for sure that it had been the van Laundrie and Petito had been traveling in until she saw another video posted online Sunday morning that showed the van parked in nearly the same spot as she had seen it.
In that case, a couple spotted the van while editing footage they had captured from their dash camera while driving through the Spread Creek dispersed camping area on Aug. 27 sometime between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
They remembered noticing the van because it had a Florida license plate and explained in the video that they were from Florida too.
The couple thought about stopping at the time, but decided against it after noticing that the van looked empty.
“The van was completely dark, there was nobody there, so we decided to continue on our way,” the woman explained.
Schultz said an FBI agent called her Sunday before officials announced they had discovered Petito’s remains and told her that “you guys are the ones that really tipped us off to the right place.”
The FBI declined to confirm the account to the paper.
“We’re triumphant—we were right and we led them in the right direction,” Schultz said of their tip. “But then, of course, it’s not something you like to be right about. It’s been emotionally exhausting for sure.”
Petito’s body was discovered Sunday in the Spread Creek dispersed camping area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. A medical examiner determined the 22-year-old died from a homicide, according to a statement from officials.
Laundrie has been named a person of interest in Petito's disappearance, but has been missing for more than a week after telling his parents on Sept. 14 that he was leaving to go hiking in the Carlton Reserve in Venice, Florida.
Police said he drove the van—which was registered to Petito—back to Florida on Sept. 1, returning from the cross-country trip alone. Petito’s mother reported her missing 10 days later after she had grown concerned that she hadn’t been able to reach her daughter.
Laundrie refused to provide investigators with any information about his girlfriend’s whereabouts before he disappeared, authorities said.
Anyone with information about the case, is urged to contact the FBI.
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