Friday, October 22, 2021

‘Messenger boy’ tells his story to media amid Natalia Petito murder investigation

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ROSEBERG TOWNSHIP, Wyo. — Brian Laundrie, the so-called “messenger boy” of Natalia Petito’s murder who had been interrogated by police and was placed on suicide watch, has offered an account to Reuters in which he offers no explanation or evidence for his claim that he was both with Petito and with her killer.

“I’ve learned a lot from talking to these folks,” Laundrie said of investigators. “And just like everyone else I’m trying to figure it out. That’s what she was trying to do, too.”

Laundrie’s story is a strange twist to a case that began with animal-horror tales of abuse, as Petito was said to have eaten one of her dogs after authorities surrounded a cabin owned by the Petitts. After more than a month, Gabrielle Petito was reported missing; last week, her body was found.

On Saturday night, Brian Laundrie, 22, told The Associated Press that he was also a suspect. “I was with her and Gabeka … In all due respect to them, I knew Gabrielle and Gabeka, and she was a good girl,” he said, referring to Gabrielle and Natalia Petito’s families.

Petito’s younger sister was just two months old when she was murdered. And on Sunday, Brian Laundrie’s first interview with multiple media outlets took place.

And yet, where exactly did Laundrie and Natalia Petito meet? During the week of Natalia Petito’s disappearance, Brian Laundrie and his mother, Kathie Laundrie, were with the family on their most recent vacation in Parker, a busy and expensive town on the outskirts of Red Mountain National Park.

“They’d started early, 5 a.m., going through and seeing if they had anything from Natalia or Gabrielle. There were a lot of things missing,” according to a nurse who served Natalia Petito’s older brother Gabriel.

Natalia’s mother, Maria Petito, says she remembers Brian Laundrie specifically, seeing him sitting on the couch for hours the night Natalia went missing.

Brian Laundrie moved to the United States from England five years ago to study film, and he says he works part-time as a delivery driver.

Last summer, he left his mother’s Red Mountain cabin for a weekend to join the Augustflower family, which owns a second cabin in Parker. Brian Laundrie says he spent a lot of time with Gabrielle and Natalia Petito, and that he has also contacted Gabrielle’s family and offered condolences.

Police Chief Timothy Lennartz of Red River County, which includes Red Mountain, said that his department has no new leads to pursue in the case, and he suggested that the Laundries might have mistaken a messenger boy, who Natalia Petito reportedly said would be taking her, for a murder suspect.

“My personal thought is that it may be so-called ‘messenger boys,’” Lennartz said. “We were told that she had had a kid for a long time.”

According to Brian Laundrie, Natalia Petito and Gabrielle Petito had become friends — and were on and off again — after they spent the spring of 2016 in Louisiana together. But he claims they decided to go their separate ways.

“Natalia called me on Sunday and she asked me if I could pick her up on Thursday,” Brian Laundrie said. “Gabrielka gave Natalia her address.”

Brian Laundrie said that he picked up Natalia Petito on Thursday, and took her to his residence, which he says is less than a mile from the Petitts’ cabin. There, he said, they smoked marijuana, drank and kissed.

But this account contradicts what Petito’s older brother Gabrielle Petito had told police in the days after Natalia Petito disappeared. He said that she did not know Brian Laundrie or Gabrielle Laundrie, and that he had not let his sister smoke marijuana at his house.

In the photo above, a man resembling Brian Laundrie is shown in pink and black attire while posing at an overlook near the Petitts’ home, where he was questioned by police in the disappearance of Natalia Petito.

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