Laundrie, a securities trader, returned to his Metairie, La., home on Feb. 9 after a cross-country trip to attend his brother’s funeral. When he returned to the home around 6:30 p.m., he found the woman in the house. Laundrie called the police and filed a complaint.
Laundrie contacted the police again the next day when he saw the woman was being called “the wife” by a reporter. He then learned she had been camping nearby with his friend Zach Daniel at the same time.
Shortly after 3 p.m. on Feb. 11, Petito, another musician who has performed with Dolly Parton, headed for California with her boyfriend John Grabowski. According to Petito’s family, she and her boyfriend had been together for several years and had a baby in 2014.
Laundrie said he had gone out in the evening and that Grabowski had driven Petito home. He told the warrant that Petito and Grabowski had started arguing because they’d both tried to drive to California when their car was dead-ended by a cone marking a work zone on Interstate 10. He said that shortly after they got home, Petito told him she needed to leave and that she couldn’t trust anyone to drive her car for her anymore.
The warrant also indicated that Petito is mother to a young son. Laundrie’s mother, Katherine Hotmacher, told WWL that Petito had a “crazy” job in New Orleans that she liked very much. She didn’t want to leave her son with Grabowski. When she arrived back in the U.S., Hotmacher said she picked up her son and took him to a hotel.
On Feb. 13, Hotmacher told Hot 105 radio host Lori Lane, that she was concerned that Petito was missing and had contacted her car insurance company to ask what had happened to the car. She said Petito’s boyfriend tried to get the car to go by the car wash on Thursday in Texas, but that he couldn’t get it to start.
Later that day, Hotmacher said she was on the phone with the friend of her son, Daniel, and got information from Daniel that the Petito was at a reservoir in East Baton Rouge Parish, taking a camping trip. She asked Daniel to check the reservoir, but he didn’t find her there.
Hotmacher wrote in a Facebook post that on Feb. 14, she went to the reservoir to look for Petito and found her hiding behind the fence.
“When we approached her, she was scared, but she opened the door and I could see what happened to her,” she wrote.
Hotmacher told Lane that they “had been friends for a while” and that Petito wouldn’t have gone to a reservoir with her boyfriend. She said that Petito had returned their car on Feb. 8. She told Lane that her son called her a few days later saying he wouldn’t go to town with her after she came back from camping because “he didn’t want to miss out on too much of things.”
Hotmacher told Lane that the last thing Petito said to her was “she loves me,” though Daniel said in a Tuesday interview with WWL that she was overheard saying, “I love him too.”
Prosecutors now have to decide whether to arrest the women on suspicion of trespassing. Laundrie and Hotmacher declined to comment to WWL. It wasn’t immediately clear on Monday if Petito had legal representation.
Hotmacher and Daniel told Lane that they had heard from Petito that she was going to California and her dog had not been returned. Petito has been gone for at least three days.
For some time, Petito has been posting old photos on her Instagram that show the Paradise Performing Arts Academy in Texas. She is clearly a familiar figure in the area, having performed with Dolly Parton in Texas and Louisiana in recent years. One image shows a woman allegedly holding a microphone while barefoot on watermelon.