Brian Laundrie's Autopsy Report Is More Haunting Than We Expected

For a few months in 2021, the world was captivated by the disappearance and then murder case of Gabby Petito. Only 22 years-old, she was embarking on what should've been a life-changing cross-country road trip with her fiancé — one that she documented religiously on her Instagram account and on her video blog, Nomadic Statik.

Brian Laundrie, 23, had gone on many road trips with Gabby since they got together, so there was no reason to suspect this trip would end any differently than the previous trips. In fact, the couple had even announced in a YouTube video they were "downsizing their lives" so they could travel together full time, per Global News. For Petito, "living free" was all she wanted to experience. Her mother explains that Petito "wanted to cross the country in the camper van and live the van life and life free. This was her dream."

That dream was cut tragically short. Laundrie, 23, returned to his parents' home in Florida on September 1, 2021 — two months after Petito began posting about their latest road trip. But Laundrie didn't have Petito with him. According to CNN, Laundrie went camping with his parents, instead of filing a missing person's report or informing Petito's family. 

Meanwhile, CNN reports that Petito's family hadn't heard anything from her since August 29. "She maintained regular contact with her family members during her travels; however that communication abruptly stopped around the end of August," North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said in a statement.

This is what happened before Gabby Petito went missing

Gabby Petito had also been actively posting on social media about her road trip, but no one, not even her social media followers, heard from her beyond the last week of August, per CNN.

As media attention swelled around the case, and with a manhunt underway to search the last area Petito was reported seen, Petito's family had to beg Brian Laundrie to get involved with the search for their daughter, according to CNN. But on September 17, 2021, Laundrie was reported missing by his family. Suddenly, two manhunts were underway — manhunts that would end tragically.

While the separate searches for Petito and Laundrie were under way, more information was starting to come out about the couple whose life looked picture-perfect on Instagram. On August 12, 2021, just a few weeks before Petito disappeared, the couple was stopped by police in Moab, Utah, while they were having an argument. The responding officer, who described Petito as "confused and emotional," told the couple they needed to separate for the night and let them leave.

911 audio from that day reported a couple fitting Petito and Laundrie's descriptions having a "domestic dispute," per CNN. "The gentleman was slapping the girl," the caller explained. "They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off."

This is what Gabby Petito's autopsy revealed

This wasn't the only witness to Brian Laundrie's treatment of Gabby Petito. On August 27, 2021, the couple was seen having another fight at a restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming. Petito was described by the witness, according to CNN, as being "in tears" while Laundrie was "visibly angry." August 27 was also the last time Petito's family believed they heard from her. They had received a text on August 30, a short "No service in Yosemite," that they felt was not written by Petito. It was later revealed by the FBI that Petito's family's instincts were right. 

Between August 27 and August 29, Laundrie was spotted by multiple people trying to hitchhike. CNN reports that one witness, Norma Jean Jalovec, even gave Laundrie a ride to the camping area of Spread Creek in the Grand Tetons, where Laundrie and Petito had been staying. During the car ride, Laundrie explained how he was traveling with his fiancée, who was waiting for him in their van back at their campsite.

Petito's remains were found on September 19, 2021, near the camp area Laundrie had asked to be driven to. An autopsy revealed that she had been beaten and strangled to death, then left in the wilderness. There was no doubt in anyone's mind — includingPetito's parents, the cops, or the public — that Laundrie was the one responsible.

Here's what Brian Laudrie's autopsy revealed

Although Gabby Petito's body had been found, the manhunt for Brian Laundrie continued. The FBI began releasing more information at this time, along with issuing a warrant for Laundrie's arrest. CNN explains Laundrie was suspected of using a debit card that he wasn't allowed to use, spending more than $1000 between August 30, 2021, and September 1, 2021 — the same date he returned to Florida without Petito.

On October 21, 2021, one month after Petito was found, Laundrie's body was discovered in a Florida swamp. Many feared the truth of what happened to Petito was now lost. After police searched the belongings found near Laundrie's body, though, they came across a shocking piece of evidence, NPR reports. Along with a revolver and backpack, Laundrie also had a notebook with him. Inside the notebook was evidence that showed Laundrie had killed Petito.

Laundrie's death was ruled death by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In the forty-seven-page autopsy released to the public, it was also revealed that following his death, his body was "subjected to moderately extensive carnivore activity evidenced by multiple gouging and gnawing marks," The Daily Mail reported. The activity happened after his death, according to the autopsy.