A man with an uncanny resemblance to Brain Laundrie, the sole person of interest in Gabby Petito‘s homicide, says he was questioned by federal investigators at gunpoint after being mistaken by tipsters as the wanted fugitive.
Severin Beckwith, and his travel companion Anna Brettmann, were napping at a lodge on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina when US Marshals stormed into their room.
‘Next thing I see is a bunch of guys with riot shields with ‘U.S. Marshals’ written on them,’ Beckwith told the New Yorker. ‘Handguns pointed at my face.’
The hiker, still in his underwear, was handcuffed and taken into the hotel hallway while investigators – responding to alleged Laundrie sightings – worked to confirm his identity.
Severin Beckwith (pictured) says he was questioned by federal investigators at gunpoint after being mistaken by tipsters as wanted fugitive Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie, 23, (left) is the sole person of interest in the homicide of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, 22 (right)
Beckwith claims the agents touched the side of his head and claimed he had ‘notch in the upper part of my inner ear just like [Laundrie].’
They also fingerprinted him and requested that he shave his beard to prove he wasn’t Petito’s fiancé.
He claims he ‘immediately regretted’ shaving his beard ‘because I have much less of a chin than Laundrie does.’
The hiker also notes that they examined his hands, looking for Laundrie’s tattoo – which he didn’t have.
Beckwith and Brettman, of Ithaca, New York, had been camping and hiking the Appalachian Trail since late September.
Due to several days of heavy rain and poor sleep, the couple decided to check into the Lodge at Fontana Village Resort, located about two miles off the trail, in Dam, North Carolina.
They booked the room with a credit card linked to a New York I.D.
‘Which, I guess, was good enough motive to come in,’ Beckwith said, noting that Petitio was also from New York.
He believes an employee at a nearby marina had taken a picture of him and contacted the authorities.
Beckwith said he and Brettman had requested to use the individual’s phone in an effort to call a shuttle from the Fontana Lake marina earlier in the day.
He recalled that the employee ‘responded strangely’ to his request and, without Beckwith’s knowledge, had photographed him.
The US Marshals reportedly presented the photo to him during questioning.
‘They had a little side-by-side,’ Beckwith said. ‘It was Brian and then me on the phone calling to get the shuttle.’
He was later released and given a free night’s stay at the lodge for their ‘unique troubles’.
Beckwith claims the agents told the couple they ‘now had a good story to tell’.
Beckwith claims the agents touched the side of his head and claimed he had ‘notch in the upper part of my inner ear just like [Laundrie].’
Beckwith and Anna Brettman (pictured), of Ithaca, New York, had been camping and hiking the Appalachian Trail since late September. They were given a free night’s stay at the lodge for their ‘unique troubles’
Timeline of Gabby Petito case
- July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip
- August 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple
- Aug. 17: Laundrie allegedly flies back to Florida to ‘clear out a storage unit’
- Aug. 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah
- Aug. 23: Laundrie flies back to Utah to ‘rejoin Gabby’ on their trip
- Aug. 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie
- Aug. 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park
- Aug. 25 or 26: The couple chats with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes
- Aug. 27: Video of Petito’s van was taken by blogger Jenn Bethune, of Red White & Bethune, around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground; Witnesses say they saw a ‘commotion’ with the couple at Merry Piglets Tex-mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming – if accurate, this appears to be the last known sighting of Petito
- Aug. 29: The day that Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker claimed that she and her boyfriend were approached by Laundrie at Grand Teton National Park and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm; Schmidt says she is not entertaining this claim and believes it possibly factual
- Aug. 30: Schmidt receives the last text from Petito: ‘No service in Yosemite’
- Sept. 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito
- Sept. 6-7: Laundrie and his parents visit Fort De Soto campsite in Florida
- Sept. 11: Schmidt reports Petito missing to authorities in New York; Petito and Laundrie’s van was impounded by police in Florida that same day
- Sept. 12: Grand Teton National Park rangers search for Petito
- Sept. 13: Laundrie’s lawyer says on October 5 that his parents now ‘believe’ this was the day they last saw him heading for a hike
- Sept. 14: Laundrie issues a statement about Petito’s disappearance through his lawyer; Laundrie’s parents claim on September 17 that Laundrie left his parents’ home for a hike this day and they hadn’t seen from him since
- Sept. 15: Laundrie is officially named a person of interest in Petito’s case
- Sept. 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown
- Sept. 18: North Port police and the FBI start searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County for missing Brian Laundrie
- Sept. 19: Bethune realizes she has video of Petito’s van around 12am and submits the FBI with the footage 10 minutes later; Officials announce a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Petito’s description in the afternoon
- Sept. 21: Coroner confirms remains found in Grand Tetons belong to Petito. Her death is ruled a homicide but her cause of death is still under invesetigation
- Sept. 20 – 22: FBI and North Port police continue search for Laundrie in Carton Reserve
- Sept. 22: Neighbors say they saw the Laudrie family pack up their detached camper on the day Gabby was reported missing. DailyMail.com photos show the camper was back in the driveway two days later, on September 13
- Sept. 23: FBI issues an arrest warrant for Laundrie for ‘use of unauthorized access device’ for fraudulently using a Capitol One Bank debit card that was not his between August 30 and September 1 to spend $1,000; A probe is launched into the police handling of the Utah police incident on Aug. 12; Laundrie’s parents visit their attorney in Orlando
- Sept. 25: Dog the Bounty Hunter joins the search for Laundrie
- Sept. 26: A funeral is held for Petito in Holbrook, New York, and her family launch a charity to help parents find missing children
- Sept. 27: Manhunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve is scaled back after 10 day search doesn’t find him. Dog the Bounty Hunter says Laundrie and his parents stayed at Fort De Soto Park from September 1-3 and September 6-8 – and that on the latter visit only the parents left
- Sept. 28: Laundrie’s mom is accused of using a burner phone to contact her son Sept. 29: Documents reveal Laundrie’s mom canceled a reservation for the Fort De Soto Park campsite for two from September 1 to 3 and booked for three from September 6 to 8; FBI seizes surveillance footage from site; FBI investigates lead Laundrie bought a burner phone on September 14; Dog the Bounty Hunter searches the area near Fort De Soto finding a recently drunk can of Monster Energy at a makeshift campsite deep in the woods
- Sept. 30: Bodycam footage from a second officer at the August 12 incident is released showing a distressed Petito admitting Laundrie hit her; FBI agents collect more evidence from the Laundrie home
- Oct. 1: It emerges Laundrie’s sister had contact with him after she said she did
- Oct. 2: A hiker along the Appalachian Trail claims to have seen Laundrie near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina
- Oct. 3: Investigators searched the area on the Appalachian trail for any signs that Laundrie had been there
- Oct. 4: Laundrie’s sister told protestors outside her home that her family has been ignoring her after they rebuked her story and that she does not know where her brother is
- Oct 5: Laundrie’s sister appeared on Good Morning America to say she would turn her brother in if she knew where he is; The Laundrie attorney says his parents now ‘believe’ he went on the run one day earlier than they first claimed (September 13 not 14) meaning he had a four-day headstart before they reported him missing to authorities; The attorney also says Laundrie flew from Utah to Florida on Aug. 17 without Petito to clear out a storage unit then returned on Aug. 23; A hiker reports a sighting of a person he believed to be Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail near the Tennessee border
- Oct 6: Petito’s parents and step-parents appear together on Dr. Phil to discuss their daughter’s death. Her family paints a vivid picture of the scene where her body was found and encourages Laundrie to turn himself in; The Laundrie family lawyer says his father Christopher went to look for him on the night of Sept. 13 when he didn’t return from the park
- Oct. 7: Laundrie’s father Christopher joins FBI agents on the search for his son at the Carlton Reserve but the search brings up no clues; FBI says it is also investigating 11 alleged sightings of Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail near the North Carolina-Tennessee border; investigators confirmed neither Petito or Laundrie’s phones were found in the couple’s campervan
- Oct. 8: North Port Police spokesperson says there is a ‘lot of oddness’ with Laundrie’s parents handling of the situation and that ‘a lot of things that didn’t make sense’ about their version of events
- Oct. 12: Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announces autopsy findings which show Petito died by strangulation; No specific date of death was given – only that she was dead 3-4 weeks before her body was found
Laundrie, 23, is the sole person of interest in his fiancée’s homicide.
Petito, 22, was discovered dead September 19 in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, months after she and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country trip in their Ford Transit camper van – eight days after her family reported her missing and 22 days after the last reported sighting of her alive on August 27.
She was strangled and was likely killed three to four weeks before her body was discovered, a coroner said, ruling her death a homicide.
Due to Wyoming law, the coroner did not provide additional details about the autopsy’s findings including: if her body was buried, whether any drugs were found in her system and whether she was killed in the same spot her body was found.
The coroner did, however, add that DNA samples had been taken by law enforcement as the investigation into her murder and who was responsible continues.
Authorities have not named a suspect in her murder but it is possible they may already have named one behind closed doors, a former FBI agent told WPBF 25.
‘That piece of information, I would bet, has gone into grand jury – there is now a sealed indictment for the apprehension for the person who is responsible for the death of Gabby Petito,’ former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan said.
‘This can of course include him [Brian Laundrie] as being the attacker or responsible person for causing Gabby Petito’s death or it could exclude him.’
He believes it is unlikely the suspect’s name will be released until after an arrest is made.
State Attorney Dave Aronberg said Laundrie’s DNA might not appear on the samples found on Petito’s body due to the time her body spent exposed to the elements, but other evidence like cell phone records could still be used against him, according to WPFB’s Carbonare.
Laundrie returned from the trip alone on September 1 and refused to say what became of his partner.
Petito’s family contacted Laundrie and his family but no one replied.
On September 11, Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, reported her missing. She later found out that Laundrie had returned home to Florida without her daughter.
Laundrie – the only person of interest in the case – is now missing, and police aren’t sure whether he’s hiding or dead.
His parents reported him missing after September 17, claiming he failed to return home from a hike.
They steered investigators toward the alligator-infested, 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota, Florida.
Investigators spent more than $1million scouring the area for Laundrie, but didn’t find him.
The FBI issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie last month after alleging he used a Capitol One Bank debit card that wasn’t his.
The agency said Laundrie is wanted for ‘use of unauthorized access device’ related to his activities between August 30 and September 1, following Petito’s death, and that he used the card to obtain items totaling $1,000 or more.
Schmidt, Petito’s grief-stricken mother said she wants ‘coward’ Brian Laundrie to spend the rest of his life ‘in a cell’ in an interview that aired on Sunday as she returned from collecting her murdered daughter’s ashes in Wyoming.
She made the comments during an interview with 60 Minutes Australia that aired on Sunday, as she and her husband Jim returned to their home in Long Island after retrieving her daughter’s ashes.
Schmidt said she and her husband, Jim, thought Gabby would be safe with Laundrie when they embarked on the trip. Now, she sees him as a cold-blooded killer who is being protected by his parents, who still refuse to talk to them.
‘Silence speaks volumes. I believe they know most of the information. I would love to just face to face ask, “why are you doing this? Just tell me the truth.”
‘He’s a coward. I don’t want to say he’s insane because he went home, he’s hiding, he used her credit card. That’s not somebody who’s gone crazy.
Jim, her husband, added: ‘We want vengeance. And justice.’
An autopsy revealed last week that Gabby had been strangled. Her mother said she hopes she did not suffer or feel ‘any pain’.
‘I hope she didn’t suffer and that she wasn’t in any pain. That she was in a place she wanted to be, looking at the beautiful mountains. This was evil. She was taken at somebody else’s hand. It’s not fair.’
Jim, Petito’s stepfather, angrily reacted to Brian being labeled ‘missing’ and said his family haven’t done enough to try to find him.
‘Change missing to hiding. Gabby was missing. There’s a lot of other people out there missing. He’s hiding. We were up every day and every night until we found Gabby.
‘Are the people that love him doing the same for him? If not, then why not? If they were, maybe he would have been found by now.’
Schmidt told how Brian and Gabby had become engaged ‘quickly’ after meeting and that she thought he would take care of him.
‘Nobody expects anything like this to happen let alone the attention it’s gotten. It’s very surreal.
‘It’s almost like you’re on the outside, looking in.
‘It happened pretty quickly. He was quiet, polite. He would read books to my little one at night before bed. He just seemed like a nice guy.’
She said she was worried about the trip initially but thought Laundrie would take care of her daughter.
‘I worried. I told her to be careful, be safe, make sure to be aware of your surroundings, don’t trust everybody but I felt safe because she was with Brian and felt like she would be OK.
‘I thought he would take care of her.’
Over the weekend, DailyMail.com exclusively obtained pictures of the pair leaving the Jackson mortuary where Gabby’s remains were being held, along with Gabby’s father Joseph.
Faces etched with pain, the family made their way out of the Valley Mortuary in Jackson, Wyoming, on Saturday morning clutching an urn containing the ashes of the 22-year-old van life blogger – the final stop on a whirlwind trip that included visits to the last places Petito went to before she was murdered, and a meeting with detectives working on the case.
Mom Nichole appeared visibly upset as they left the funeral home, while black-clad father Joe held the white box containing Petito’s body to his chest.
The remains of blonde Petito will now be taken home to Long Island, New York, for burial.
Earlier this week, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announced the results of Petito’s autopsy – she had been manually strangled before being dumped close to a remote campsite in Grand Teton National Park.
Petito’s father Joe and his wife Tara and her mother Nichole and husband Jim have been in Jackson since Wednesday afternoon and spent Thursday morning at the campsite where she was found.
They were escorted to the Spread Creek campsite, which is 27 miles out of town, by officers from the Teton County Sheriff.
The remote site where the blogger’s body was discovered on September 19 has become a shrine to Petito, complete with a stone cross dotted with flowers.
Afterwards, the family spent the afternoon at the Sheriff’s office being briefed by detectives working on the case.
On Friday, they met with rescuers from the Teton County Search and Rescue team which took part in the hunt for Petito’s body and visited Jenny Lake where her van was seen parked up shortly before she vanished.
Dad Joe posted a photo of the lake on his social media with the caption: ‘I now know why you came here. #GabbyPetito has a beautiful view from now on. Love you and miss you.’
Gabby’s father Joseph Petito clutches the ashes of his murdered daughter, whose remains were found at a nearby campsite on September 19
Gabby’s family retrieved the white boxes containing her ashes from the Valley Mortuary in Jackson, Wyoming on Saturday
A memorial of stones arranged in a cross pattern at the Spread Creek Dispersed Campsite east of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 20 – where Petito’s body was found one day earlier
Petito’s disappearance and subsequent murder has generated a frenzy since she was first reported missing after her fiancé lawyered up and refused to cooperate with investigators before going on the run.
The case has drawn the attention of TV personalities like Duane Chapman – known as Dog the Bounty Hunter – and longtime ‘America’s Most Wanted’ host John Walsh who are now also working to track him down.
Laundrie’s family, however, have been refusing to answer questions and are still citing the Carlton Reserve as the last place he was seen.
The Laundrie family lawyer, Anthony Bertolino, gave a statement attempting to express sympathy to Petito’s family on Thursday after her cause of death was revealed.
‘Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy,’ he wrote.
‘While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise,’ Bertolino wrote.
‘At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him.’
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, texted a reported a curt, blunt response.
‘His words are garbage. Keep talking,’ she wrote to reporter from WFLA in Florida.