Gabby Petito timeline: Tracing the 'van life' blogger's trip

WATCH: The family of 22-year-old Gabby Petito made an appeal to her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, to tell police where she might be and what happened after he returned home alone from their months-long road trip across the United States.

Medical examiners confirmed on Tuesday that a body found in Wyoming was identified as Gabby Petito — weeks after the 22-year-old disappeared during a road trip across the United States with her fiancé, who is still missing.

Petito and boyfriend Brian Laundrie initially set out together in a van on a summer-long tour of national parks, in a journey that she aimed to document on her blog, Nomadic Statik.

Laundrie showed up with the van at their shared home in Florida on Sept. 1. Petito was not in the car and Laundrie has not spoken publicly since, except through statements released by his lawyer. He then went missing himself, and his family claims to have no idea where he is.

He was last seen on Sept. 14 by family members, whom Laundrie told he was going on a hike in Florida’s Carlton Reserve.

Read more:
Police video shows Gabby Petito, fiancé arguing before her disappearance

On Tuesday, local news station WAFF 48 reported police began searching for Laundrie in Mobile, Ala., after he was supposedly spotted eating at a restaurant.

Read more:
Woman missing, fiancé silent after returning alone from U.S. road trip

“If you look at her Instagram page, you can actually find a lot of evidence of where they were these past few months,” Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, told broadcaster KSL-TV.

Here’s what we know about the couple’s “van life” journey across the United States, according to police, Petito’s family and the pair’s social media accounts.

Early days

Petito grew up in Blue Point, Long Island, according to Schmidt. She met Laundrie in high school and they’d been dating for two-and-a-half years.

They got engaged in July 2020, according to Petito’s Instagram account. She later agreed to move in with him in Florida.

The couple seemingly bonded over their love for adventure and went on several trips in late 2019 and 2020. Video and photos from their travels show they visited Portland, Ore., along with parts of Georgia and California.

They later used footage from that trip in their “Van Life” video blog, which they combined with their adventures this summer.

“After our first cross country trip in a little Nissan Sentra, we both decided we wanted to downsize our lives and travel full time,” they wrote on the YouTube video description.

Schmidt says her daughter loved those road trips and wanted to go on a bigger one this year.

“She wanted to cross the country in the camper van and live the van life and live free. This was her dream,” Schmidt said.

July 2, 2021 – the trip begins

Petito and Laundrie set out from Long Island in their 2012 Ford Transit van, which has been outfitted for the journey.

Petito would stay in touch with her mother throughout the trip with FaceTime calls three times a week.

July 4 – Kansas

Petito and Laundrie visit the chalk pyramids at Monument Rocks in Kansas. She takes photos with the rock formations and posts them on Instagram.

“There’s no place like the tiny home we built,” Petito writes on Instagram, in a post that tags Laundrie.

“Downsizing our life to fit into this itty bitty van was the best decision we’ve ever made,” Laundrie writes in a separate Instagram post, which shows him sitting atop the van near the rock formations.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CQ7SNHUFJAD/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

July 8 – Colorado

Petito poses for a photo in front of a flower mural in Colorado Springs, Colo.

July 10-11 – Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado

The couple camps in Great Sand Dunes National Park. They go sandboarding and hiking during their visit.

“As soon as we got to the Great Sand Dunes I didn’t want to leave, there was so much to hike!” Petito writes in one of her posts.

“I’ve never set foot in terrain like this,” Laundrie writes. His posts show that he likes hiking barefoot.

On July 11, Petito writes that it’s their “last day in Colorado.”

July 14-18 (approximate) – Zion National Park, Utah

Petito and Laundrie begin a lengthy tour of Utah with a stay at Zion National Park. Their exact timeline is a bit hazy, but on July 16 Petito says they’ve already been there for two nights. They post several times over July 16 to 18, tagging the park each time.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CRaCDBGlLvb/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

It’s unclear when they leave, but on July 21 Laundrie writes that they “camped in Zion for 3 nights.”

July 21-24 – Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Petito posts photos from Bryce Canyon National Park on Instagram. Her caption suggests they left Zion and headed east, stopping at Cedar Breaks before visiting Bryce.

The couple post several more photos over the next few days, up to and including July 24.

July 26 – Mystic Hot Springs, Utah

The road-trippers head north to Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah.

July 29-21 – Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Laundrie and Petito share several posts from Canyonlands National Park, an area south of Moab.

Their location after this is unclear, as they stop posting updates for more than a week. Their next location is in the area around Moab.

Aug. 12 – Police incident at Arches National Park, Utah

Police pull the couple over for speeding at Arches National Park. An officer approaches the car to discover that Laundrie and Petito have been arguing, bodycam footage shows.

A sobbing Petito admits to slapping Laundrie during an argument and acknowledges grabbing the wheel of the van while he’s driving. They both tell police that Laundrie locked Petito out of their van earlier that morning.

“She just gets worked up sometimes. I try and really distance myself from her, so I lock the car and I like to wait for her,” Laundrie tells officers at the scene.

“We’ve been fighting all morning and he wouldn’t let me in the car before,” Petito says in a separate discussion.

Laundrie says he pushed Petito away to keep her from taking the keys, and that she scratched his face with her phone.

Brian Laundrie speaks to police after he and girlfriend Gabby Petito were pulled over in Arches National Park, Utah, on Aug. 12, 2021.

Brian Laundrie speaks to police after he and girlfriend Gabby Petito were pulled over in Arches National Park, Utah, on Aug. 12, 2021.

Moab Police

Laundrie tells police that Petito has been stressed out over her blog.

Authorities consider charging Petito with domestic assault but ultimately decide against it. Instead, they order the pair to spend the night apart, with Petito in the van and Laundrie at a hotel in Moab.

Petito posts several photos from the park later in the day, along with a lengthy story about the hike.

Aug. 13 – Arches and Moab, Utah

Laundrie posts photos tagged at Arches and Moab. Like Petito, he does not mention the police incident.

“Humans are primates, great apes in fact but I don’t know all how great we are as a species,” he writes in one post, which shows him climbing on various rock formations.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CShuVVdFTTB/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

He uses another post to complain about food packaging.

Aug. 14-18 – Social media blackout

The couple do not post anything on social media for several days.

Laundrie makes no more posts from this point on.

Aug. 19 – Petito unveils her video blog

Petito makes one Instagram post on Aug. 19. The photo shows Petito’s legs as she reclines inside the van while looking out the door. Outside is scrubby grassland with mountains visible in the distance.

Most of Petito’s posts have been tagged up until this point, but her Aug. 19 post does not include a location.

Petito complains about food packaging left behind by a tourist in her caption.

Petito also posts her first and only video blog on YouTube. The eight-minute video, titled “Beginning our van life journey,” is a mash-up of footage from their previous adventures and their 2021 road trip.

The couple appear to have used a drone to shoot much of their footage, including an overhead shot of their van driving through the desert.

They talk about weathering the rain and camping in Utah in the latter part of the video.

The footage also includes an inside look at their van setup.

Aug. 24 – Salt Lake City and last contact

Schmidt says she last spoke to Petito via FaceTime on Aug. 24, plus or minus a day.

Police say they have security footage showing the couple checking out of a hotel in Salt Lake City, in the northern part of Utah.

Authorities say the pair were heading to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, which is northeast of Salt Lake City.

Aug. 25 – Ogden, Utah

Petito makes her last post on Instagram. The post shows her posing in front of a monarch butterfly mural while holding a knit pumpkin.

The location of the photo is not tagged, but the mural is located in Ogden, Utah, north of Salt Lake.

Schmidt does not hear from her daughter for several days. She assumes that Petito is hiking and does not have cell service.

Aug. 30 – Last text message

Schmidt receives a text message from Petito’s phone on Aug. 30.

“No service in Yosemite,” the text says.

“I don’t know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text,” Schmidt told broadcaster WFSB. “I didn’t verbally speak to her.”

Yosemite National Park is located in northern California, roughly 1,300 kilometres southwest of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Sept. 1 – Laundrie arrives in Florida

Laundrie returns to North Port, Fla., where he and Petito have been living with his parents.

Petito is not in the car. Laundrie does not speak to her family upon his return.

Laundrie’s home is approximately 4,400 kilometres by road from Yosemite National Park in California. It would take about 40 hours of driving to travel that distance, according to Google Maps.

Sept. 11 – Where’s Gabby?

Gabby Petito’s family reports her missing to local police. Authorities launch a multi-state effort to find her. They also confiscate the couple’s van as evidence.

“Gabrielle is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming,” police say.

Sept. 12 – Silence from Laundrie

Laundrie’s family hires lawyer Steve Bertolino to speak on their behalf. Police say that Laundrie will not speak to their investigators.

“The Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment,” Bertolino says in a statement on Tuesday.

Petito’s family fires back in an angry statement of their own, imploring Laundrie to come forward as the likely last person to see her.

“Brian is refusing to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her. Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida,” they said. “How does Brian stay in the background when he is the one person that knows where Gabby is located?”

Bertolino later says that Laundrie has “nothing to offer” police.

“Brian, whatever happened in Wyoming, happened,” the Petito family says in another statement. “The only thing you can control is what you do now. Tell us where Gabby is.”

Police say they can’t search the couple’s home or force Laundrie to speak because they don’t have evidence of a crime at this point.

Sept. 19 – Human remains found in Wyoming

A body discovered in a national park in Wyoming was found to be “consistent with the description” of Petito.

“Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100 percent that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery. The cause of death has not been determined at this time,” read a statement from Charles Jones, FBI Denver’s supervisory senior resident agent.

Laundrie’s family shares their condolences at the discovery of a body.

Officials stress that Laundrie is not a suspect in Petito’s disappearance — only a person of interest. No charges have been filed.

Sept. 20 – FBI searches Laundrie home

Investigators spend much of the day searching the Laundrie home, loading cardboard boxes into a van and towing away a silver Ford Mustang.

The Laundrie family’s lawyer, Steven Bertolino, cancelled a news conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

“As per my conversation with the FBI this evening there will be no press conference,” he said. Bertolino said it was “not true” that the FBI had advised him to cancel.

Sept. 21 – FBI identifies remains as Petito

The FBI said Tuesday that the body found in a U.S. national park in Wyoming was identified as Gabby Petito, adding a local coroner had ruled her death a homicide.

“Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999,” the Denver office of the FBI said in a written statement.

“Coroner Blue’s initial determination for the manner of death is homicide. The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results,” the FBI said.

The investigation is ongoing.

—with files from Reuters and Global News’ Chris Jancelewicz 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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