October 21, 2021

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Gabby Petito: Police speak with TikTok user who claimed to give boyfriend Laundrie a ride – FOX 13 Tampa Bay

6 min read

Police in Florida said Saturday they spoke with a woman who claimed to have given the person of interest in Gabby Petito’s disappearance case a ride on Aug. 29, which is days after the 22-year-old was last seen alive. 

Miranda Baker, in videos posted to TikTok, said that she and her boyfriend picked up a hitchhiker, Brian Laundrie, at 5:30 p.m. that day after spotting him on the side of the road. She said she spoke with police about the encounter.

North Port police, who are leading the investigation into Petito’s disappearance, told FOX News that they have indeed spoken with Baker

“We have spoken with her and are potentially utilizing her info into our timeline,” department spokesman Josh Taylor said in an email.

Baker recounted in the video that she and her boyfriend saw Laundrie hiking alone in Grand Teton National Park. Baker claimed that Laundrie offered the couple $200 to drive him some ten miles down the road.

“That was kind of weird,” Baker said in the TikTok video, noting that Laundrie did mention his fiancé.

RELATED: Gabby Petito disappearance: Boyfriend ‘refusing to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her’

When Baker said they were headed to Jackson, she said that Laundrie “freaked out” and demanded they drop him off immediately.

“He kind of hurried out of the car, and then was like ‘I’m going to find someone else to hitchhike,’ and we’re like, okay,” Baker said. “It was a weird situation.”

Baker highlighted that despite claiming that he had been camping for days, Laundrie did not appear dirty and seemed to have little in his backpack. In subsequent videos, Baker went into a deep analysis of the timeline and locations of her encounter with Laundrie, including exactly where she picked him up and dropped him off.

She also noted that Laundrie told her that he and Petito had been camping at an unregulated camp site and had slept on a tarp during that time.

“I’m just really hoping that they find her,” Baker adds before ending the video.

Petito was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11 after failing to return home from a cross-country trip with Laundrie. The two had been traveling in a white converted camper van all summer, documenting their trips to national parks in the U.S. West on social media. By the end of August, the posts had abruptly stopped and Laundrie eventually returned to their Florida home in the van on Sept. 1 — alone. 

Laundrie has since been identified as a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance case. 

RELATED: Gabby Petito disappearance: Van found at boyfriend’s North Port family home

A shop owner in Idaho claims to have seen Petito and Laundrie two days after the last confirmed sighting of the missing 22-year-old. 

The owner of a local shop in Idaho told East Idaho News that she saw Petito and Laundrie on either Aug. 25 or 26.

The owner of the Rustic Row in Victor said that the couple spent about 15 to 20 minutes in the store. She said that the couple mentioned they were thinking of going to Yellowstone next, and the store owner suggested using the west entrance.

She reported the information to the FBI when she saw on the news that Petito was missing.

“They seemed happy and when they left, she hollered back from the door that they were engaged and then I said congratulations,” the owner told East Idaho News.

The last confirmed sighting of Petito was when she checked out of the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Aug. 24 in Salt Lake City, according to reports. Her mother said she last saw her daughter over Facetime around the same time that Petito and Laundrie were believed to have left Utah for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

RELATED: Gabby Petito case: Timeline of 22-year-old woman’s disappearance

Petito’s family has been pleading with Laundrie and his family to cooperate with authorities and provide them with more information. Police had earlier said Laundrie was not cooperating. 

Most recently, Laundrie himself hasn’t been seen for days now either. 

Authorities went to the Laundrie home the night of Friday, Sept. 17 to speak with the family at their request but were still not speaking with Brian. Around 9 p.m. ET, Laundrie’s family attorney confirmed that his whereabouts were unknown. Laundrie’s family told officers that they haven’t seen him since Tuesday. 

On Saturday, police in Florida began searching a vast wildlife reserve near the Gulf Coast for the 23-year-old. Dozens of North Port police officers, FBI agents and members of other law enforcement agencies searched the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in the Sarasota, Florida area.

RELATED: Gabby Petito case: Law enforcement searching Carlton Reserve for Brian Laundrie

“His family says they believe he entered the area earlier this week,” North Port Police tweeted.

Earlier this week, police released body-cam footage of Petito that showed an officer pulling the couple’s van over on Aug. 12 after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near the entrance to Arches National Park. The video showed an emotional Petito, who sat inside a police cruiser while officers also questioned Laundrie.

Moab police released a report Wednesday about the incident. A witness, referred to as Chris, said he saw Petito and Laundrie arguing and that Petito struck Laundrie on the arm. Officers observed scratches on Laundrie’s face and arms.

Ultimately, no charges or citations were filed. Police instead separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking into a motel and Petito remaining with the converted sleeper van.

The incident took place outside the Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab.

Six days later, an employee of the co-op and another woman were found shot to death at a nearby campground. Police in Utah were investigating any connection between the double homicide and Petito’s disappearance, but on Friday said the two were unrelated.

RELATED: Gabby Petito: Utah sheriff says missing woman case ‘not related’ to double murder

Petito and Laundrie’s cross-country trip in the Fort Transit van began in July from Long Island. They intended to reach Oregon by Halloween according to their social media accounts, but Petito vanished after her last known contact with family in late August from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, authorities said.

Petito’s mother has said Aug. 25 was the last date she spoke to her daughter on the phone. 

“I don’t know if she left Grand Teton or not,” Schmidt later told FOX News. “I did receive a text from her on the 27th and the 30th, but I don’t know if it was technically her or not, because it was just a text. I didn’t verbally speak to her.”

Petito’s final Instagram post is also published on Aug. 25, featuring several photos of her standing in front of a mural wall.

On Sept. 11, Petito’s family reported her missing. 

Authorities describe Petito as White and about 5 feet, 5 inches tall, weighing around 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads “Let it be.”

RELATED: Gabby Petito: National Parks post calls for tips on missing 22-year-old

North Port Police Department Public Information Officer Josh Taylor said a search for Petito was taking place Saturday morning in Wyoming, which is the last place she is believed to have been.

Anyone with information on Laundrie or Petito’s whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-Call-FBI.

This story was reported from Detroit. FOX News contributed. 

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