Woman who picked up hitchhiking Brian Laundrie says he start acting oddly when they got close to his van

·3 min read
Brian Laundrie talking to police in Utah on 12 August  (AP)
Brian Laundrie talking to police in Utah on 12 August (AP)

A woman who says she gave Brian Laundrie a lift when she saw him hitchhiking in Wyoming has shared more details about their encounter.

Mr Laundrie is a “person of interest” in the investigation into the death of his fiancée Gabby Petito, and is wanted by the FBI for alleged bank fraud charges. He has been missing since September 14.

Norma Jean Jalovec, 52, told People that although Mr Laundrie “was scruffy when he got in the car and he smelled”, she found “nothing extraordinary about him” until they approached the van he and Gabby Petito had lived in during their cross-country trip.

Ms Jalovec said: “He got agitated when I said, ‘Do you want me to take you past the gate, down the road [to the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area]?’ He was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. This is fine,’” she continued. “He said, ‘Just let me out here. You can let me out here.’”

As she slowed her Jeep down, “he literally was getting out of the passenger seat”, she added.

Ms Jalovec said she found this strange, because from the place she dropped him off, he would have had to walk miles down a dirt road to get to his van, and it was getting dark.

While in her Jeep, Mr Laundrie told Ms Jalovec that he and Ms Petito had been travelling together and that that day she had stayed behind in the van to work on her blog, while he hiked along Snake River and had seen moose, elk and bison.

When Mr Laundrie suddenly insisted on getting out, Ms Jalovec says she 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.’”

“If no one else comes forward about seeing him after 6:40pm,” she said, in reference to the time he got out of the vehicle, “then I was the last person to see him” before he left the area without Petito.

“That puts him there at Spread Creek at 6:40pm on August 29,” said Ms Jalovec, who has given her information to the FBI.

Petito’s body was found weeks later in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area, and she is believed to have died between August 27 and August 30.

Ms Jalovec says Mr Laundrie offered her money for gas.

“It wasn’t a dollar amount though,” she added. Miranda Baker, another woman who says she gave Mr Laundrie a lift that day, reported that he offered her $200 for just a short ride.

Ms Jalovec emphasised that Mr Laundrie had seemed normal to her during their drive.

“He was right next to me in the passenger seat,” she said. “He just looked like a young kid hitchhiking who had been hiking in a park. There was nothing extraordinary about him.”

The Independent reached out to Brian Laundrie’s lawyer for comment but had not received a response by the time this article was published.

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