Another potential murder suspect was arrested in Montana in connection with the disappearance of Gabby Petito, a 27-year-old University of Montana student. Brian Laundrie, a 28-year-old man who is registered to vote in Montana, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and obstruction in connection with the disappearance of Petito.
Laundrie and Petito met a week ago, according to police. They were “aware of each other” and believed to be romantically involved, according to police. On Monday, Laundrie checked into the Big Sky Motel, where police executed a search warrant Wednesday, according to CBS News. Authorities found the key to Petito’s car and cell phone in Laundrie’s room, and also items related to the theft of a credit card. Laundrie is currently being held in the Bozeman, Montana, Detention Center.
Petito’s disappearance has many neighbors deeply concerned. A neighbor told CBS that Laundrie was “mad at the world” that evening, a few days before Petito disappeared. Laundrie texted a family member after being questioned by police about Petito’s disappearance, “making threats against her family,” CBS reported.
Laundrie had not been considered a suspect prior to his arrest. It is unclear why, if he knew she was missing, he refused to return to her.
“I’ve never seen so much interest in a missing individual’s case,” Jefferson County Sheriff Scott Johnson told CBS News. “I think it has the community so much on edge, that’s why this community deserves a resolution.”
Petito went missing without contact on Jan. 25, when she was on her way home from the Woody Center at the University of Montana campus in Missoula. A text message she sent her roommate at 10:50 a.m. the next day is the last communication she had with anyone.
“It’s been 11 days since she was last seen and the community is crying out for anyone who may have information on her whereabouts,” state prosecutor Leah Neal told CBS News.
Prior to the arrest, Missoula police investigator Peter Linger told Missoulian News: “There’s some signs, as everyone knows, that a young woman goes missing and often times they turn up dead. This is a young woman who was never dropped off in the university area. She didn’t meet a young couple at her roommate’s home. They were completely separate, separated. No notes were left behind.”
Petito worked as a reservation cultural liaison officer at the Washington National Indian Health Service, which supports Native American students at 11 medical centers across the country. She earned a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy and continued her education at the University of Montana, where she began studying nursing. She was last seen at her dorm room.
“I got the call. They said they couldn’t find her,” a family member told Missoulian News. “It just makes you sick to your stomach. It makes me want to cry.”