Gabby Petito Case: What Forensics Experts Learned From Brian Laundrie’s Notebook
Brian Laundrie wrote in his journal that he killed his fiancée Gabby Petito and buried her body in a shallow grave in Wyoming before shooting himself in the head. The FBI found the notebook next to Laundrie’s remains at a Florida nature preserve in October. Though, it took weeks of work and new forensic technology to decipher it.
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito were on a cross-country road trip as part of their “van life” YouTube channel. They planned to visit national parks and document their journey from Florida to Wyoming. But at some point, things turned violent. Gabby Petito stopped contacting her parents in late August, and Laundrie returned home alone a few days later. Then he vanished, which sparked a nationwide manhunt that lasted weeks.
Police found his body on Oct. 20 at Carlton Reserve in Sarasota, Fla., only a few miles from his parents’ home. They also found his bookbag, cellphone, revolver, and his journal nearby. He’d been dead for weeks. But in that time, heavy rains had flooded the area leaving the notebook illegible.
“The notebook was an incredible recovery, and did, in fact, give investigators the conclusive information they needed to close this case,” said Jennifer Shen, the retired crime lab director.
Investigators were able to read Laundrie’s confession even though the rain had washed away his words and damaged the paper.
“Any protection afforded the notebook from packaging to the pages sticking together and protecting the writings can be exploited by forensic techniques,” she told The Sun. “These techniques can enhance faint or indented writing, making this evidence very powerful.
“It is often frustrating for those following a case to wait for answers. Testing of this nature can be very time-consuming, sometimes taking weeks to months, with no room for error.”
Brian Laundrie Reportedly Sent Texts From Petito’s Phone to Trick Investigators
The FBI didn’t release anything else agents uncovered in the notebook. But investigators revealed that Laundrie tried to make it appear Petito was still alive after her death. He sent texts from Gabby Petito’s phone to his to muddy the timeline.
“The timing and content of these messages are indicative of Mr. Laundrie attempting to deceive law enforcement by giving the impression that Ms. Petito was still alive,” the FBI said in a statement. Though, agents didn’t say what the texts said.
Petito’s parents said Laundrie’s confession and attempt to cover up her murder left “no doubt” of his guilt. The FBI said it had closed its investigation into Gabby Petito’s death. The agency said Brian Laundrie was the sole suspect in the case.
“The FBI’s primary focus throughout the investigation was to bring justice to Gabby and her family,” an FBI spokesperson said. “The public’s role in helping us in this endeavor was invaluable as the investigation was covered in the media around the world. On behalf of the FBI, I want to express my deepest appreciation to the public for the thousands of tips that were provided during the investigation, and to our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners for their work throughout the investigation.”