An arrest warrant has been issued for Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the homicide of Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, by the U.S. District Court of Wyoming on Thursday, September 23, two days after her death was confirmed by a coroner.
The arrest warrant, which was released by the FBI along with a news release, was issued for the alleged violation of the “Fraud and related activity in connection with access devices” statute of the U.S. Code, specifically for “whoever knowingly and with intent to defraud produces, uses, or traffics in one or more counterfeit access devices.”
An access device may refer to “any card, plate, code, account number or other means of account access that can be used, alone or in conjunction with another access device, to obtain money, goods, services, or any other thing of value, or that can be used to initiate a transfer of funds (other than a transfer originated solely by paper instrument),” according to the United States v. Jenkins-Watts.
This can include a smart phone for the use of online transactions.
While it’s unclear what device, if any, is being reference to in the warrant, texts sent from Petito’s phone to her mother, Nichole Schmidt, immediately raised red flags.
“On August 27th, 2021 [Petito’s] mother, Nichole Schmidt, received an ‘odd text’ from the subject,” read an affidavit, previously obtained by In Touch, from the 12th judicial circuit court of Sarasota county. “The text message read, ‘Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.’ The reference to ‘Stan,’ was regarding her grandfather, but per her mother, she never calls him ‘Stan.’ The mother was concerned that something was wrong with her daughter.”
Another text that stood out was the last one the family received from her number, which read, “No service in Yosemite,” but they do not believe Petito wrote the text.
“While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide,” FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said in Thursday’s press release shared by FBI Denver. “We urge individuals with knowledge of Mr. Laundrie’s role in this matter or his current whereabouts to contact the FBI. No piece of information is too small or inconsequential to support our efforts in this investigation.”
An attorney for Laundrie’s family tells In Touch in a statement regarding the arrest warrant, “It is my understanding that the arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie is related to activities occurring after the death of Gabby Petito and not related to her actual demise. The FBI is focusing on locating Brian and when that occurs the specifics of the charges covered under the indictment will be addressed in the proper forum.”
Petito’s remains were found on September 19 in Grand Teton National Park after she and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country trip in a white 2012 Ford Transit van in July. The pair documented some events on their social media accounts, including a YouTube video titled “VAN LIFE: Beginning Our Van Life Journey.”
Following Petito being confirmed dead, the search continues for Laundrie who hasn’t been seen in more than a week.
Joseph Petito, the homicide victim’s father, exclusively told In Touch that Laundrie was “useless” in the investigation before his own disappearance.
“You know what. Forget helping at this point. We know that he’s a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest right now,” Joe said on September 17. “There are ways that he could turn around, through his parents or whoever knows something in that house that can give us information without incriminating somebody. I don’t care right now. I want my daughter. The entire planet is invested in this and looking for her and there are three people in North Port who haven’t lifted a finger.”
If you have information on this case, call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).
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