Inside Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie’s ‘Toxic’ Relationship: ‘Always Something Below the Surface’

The disappearance and death of 22-year-old Gabby Petito gripped the nation following news of her going missing on a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie

What her social media followers may have perceived as a picture-perfect relationship online was masking issues below the surface, Petito’s friend Alyssa Chen told People.

Chen said the couple’s on-again, off-again relationship seemed to be harmonious when they were doing well yet could also get tumultuous when the pair was at odds.

“They had times they were toxic and times where everything seemed a lot more healthy,” she alleged about the pair, who started dating in high school. “They had very low lows and very high highs. But they really seemed to love each other.”

News broke that it was Petito’s body found in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park on September 21, and officials have since determined the manner of her death was a homicide. Her cause of death was later ruled strangulation.

Meanwhile, Brian’s remains were found one month later at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Tampa, Florida. His cause of death was determined to be suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide,” his lawyer Steve Bertolino told In Touch at the time, referring to his parents. “Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families.”

Petito was first reported missing on September 11, more than a week after Laundrie returned home in their 2012 Ford Transit van on September 1. 

FBI investigators searched the Laundrie home in North Port, Florida, as part of a “court-authorized search warrant” related to the case on September 20. 

One day before, on September 19, Petito’s brother, TJ Schmidt, shared a photo of his sister standing in front of an angel-wings mural, writing, “I don’t even know what to say. I’m at a total loss. My heart is shattered #justiceforgabby.”

Scroll through the gallery below for details on Gabby and Brian’s relationship.

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