The hiker who claims to have spoken to Brian Laundrie on the Appalachian Trial has told DailyMail.com how his ‘heart dropped’ when he realized he had come face-to-face with the man suspected of killing Gabby Petito.
Dennis Davis, 53, says he was stopped by Laundrie around 12.30am Saturday morning on a deserted road near the Tennessee/North Carolina border – 700 miles away from where the 23-year-old fugitive was last seen near his home in North Point, Florida.
In his first video interview, Davis said he didn’t realize it was him at first, until about 15 minutes later when he pulled up a photo of him, saw the matching beard and mustache and immediately dialed 911 and the FBI.
‘When I first saw him I kind of thought he was on drugs because he was acting weird,’ Davis told DailyMail.com of their interaction, adding that Laundrie spoke of heading to California to see his ‘girlfriend’.
‘But as I thought about it, I don’t necessarily think he was on drugs because he was talking very clearly. And that’s when I thought, after a month of hiding out, after killing someone that you supposedly love, it’s got to be wearing on him,’ he said.
Hiker Dennis Davis, 53, said he encountered Brian Laundrie on a deserted road close to the trail near to the Tennessee border early Saturday morning
Brian Laundrie, 23, who was reported missing on September 14, remains a person of interest in the disappearance and death of fiancée Gabby Petito
Davis claims he had an encounter with Brian Laundrie in the early hours of Saturday morning, weeks after the fugitive boyfriend of slain Gabby Petito was last seen in Florida
Davis, a father-of-four and engineer from Florida, is an avid hiker and was on his fourth hike of the Appalachian Trail of the year when he came across ‘Laundrie’.
It was 12.30am and Davis was in his car, planning to sleep in a parking lot near the Davenport Gap before meeting a friend the next day.
Dennis Davis, pictured, says he saw Brian Laundrie on a deserted trail along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina in the early hours of Saturday morning
He says he was making a K-turn when a white or silver pick-up truck came up behind him and flashed its lights to signal him to go ahead.
When he passed by the pick-up, the man inside rolled down his window and waved to get his attention.
Davis said, ‘When we first stopped and were across from each other, it took him a minute to say something. And then he said, ”Man, I’m lost.”’
Davis said he thought the man was a hiker and asked where he was heading.
He claims Laundrie said, ‘Man, I’ve got to get to California. My girlfriend and I got in a fight and she called me and she told me she loves me but I got to go to California to see her.’
Davis responded: ‘Well I-40 is right there you could literally take I-40 all the way there to California.’
He says Laundrie shook his head and said, ‘No, I’m just gonna take this road to California.’
‘He was dead serious. He was obviously kind of out of his mind. He wasn’t laughing. He was like ”that’s what I’m doing” and left,’ Davis said.
The hiker said that the route Laundrie planned to take is a small two lane country road called Waterville Road, and wouldn’t lead him to California.
Davis originally planned to sleep in that area but said he feared that the mysterious man would come back and could harm him.
‘I thought he was on drugs. After seeing him I thought there’s no way I’m staying here, if this guy comes back he might want to do something bad. So I took off. I got back on I-40 and headed west and it kind of hit me…what if that was Brian Laundrie?’ he said.
The Appalachian Trail is familiar to Laundrie, who lived there on on his own for about three months.
‘When we were talking our cars were parked side by side a nd he kept on looking forward, he didn’t look at me very much. After I talked to the FBI, I was looking at other pictures of him and I saw a profile view and when that profile view came up my heart literally dropped,’ Davis said
He said he didn’t realize it was Laundrie at first, until he looked up a photo 15 minutes later and then was adamant it was him
Davis said he got off at the first exit and began looking up photos of Laundrie online, because he wasn’t sure exactly what he looked like.
‘The thing that stood out when I saw Brian was he had this really dark beard and moustache, very thick but short. I saw the photos and I knew it was him. I immediately started looking for the FBI number,’ he said.
‘When we were talking, our cars were parked side by side and he kept on looking forward, he didn’t look at me very much. After I talked to the FBI, I was looking at other pictures of him and when that profile view came up my heart literally dropped.’
Davis said it was there that he had ‘no doubt in my mind’ that the man he had spoken to was Brian Laundrie.
‘I’ve never seen a murderer face-to-face,’ he said. ‘I was ready to go catch the guy. I made six calls to law enforcement.’
‘What I noticed about him in the photos is he’s bald,’ Davis said. ‘ I couldn’t tell because he had a bandana or shirt wrapped around his head. I only saw the top portion of his body. It looked like he had a t-shirt on with his sleeves cut off. It was a dark color.
‘He looked fairly well kept. He looked thoroughly clean and well kept. The incident itself was pretty short and sweet,’ he added.
Davis said Laundrie was ‘nice in the fact that he didn’t have anything bad to say, he didn’t act aggressive, but you could tell he wasn’t all there.’
‘There was something wrong with him, Davis said. ‘I was almost gonna ask him if he was okay but at that point I was more worried about getting out of there.
Davis, a father-of-four and engineer from Florida, is an avid hiker and was on his fourth hike of the Appalachian Trail of the year when he came across Brian Laundrie
The Appalachian trail runs from Georgia to Main. The Appalachian trail is familiar to Laundrie who is lived outdoors for on his own for months
Davis informed his family and friends of the run-in and his wife reached out to Dog The Bounty Hunter, who joined the search last month and has been mainly looking in a national park in Florida.
Davis informed his family and friends of the run-in and his wife reached out to Dog The Bounty Hunter, who joined the search last month and has been mainly searching at a national park in Florida
Dog’s daughter called Davis and sent him an audio clip to match Laundrie’s voice with the man in the pick-up. Davis said they match.
Dog called Davis himself Sunday night to hear a first-hand his account of the story.
Davis was initially frustrated that law enforcement hadn’t reached out to him, but he said a North Carolina Sheriff finally called him and told him they were working on his lead.
‘The thing that was the biggest disappointed to me is after six calls no one had got back to me. The detective I spoke to Sunday night, what he told me is I placed the call at 2.30 in the morning and they had someone out on site at 3.05.’
Davis said he was told they investigated the area for nearly an hour and pulled over the only car on the road, even though it wasn’t a pick-up truck. Davis said he believes he was driving a Ford F-150.
‘I felt relieved that they had actually done something,’ he said. ‘But I have not heard directly from the FBI or the Tennessee 911 system.’
Davis was told that he the FBI was willing to talk with him, however, and said he will likely take them up on the offer.
To those who doubt Davis’ account, he said he’s just trying to do the right thing.
‘I ran into him, into Brian, and I really believe that was him. And I thought that it was my civic duty to make the calls to the FBI and to 911 and to follow through with it. To make sure that the Petito family got the due justice they deserve for their daughter,’ Davis said.
Dennis Davis’ 911 call in full
Haywood County 911 what’s the location of your emergency?
Well, I’m on the highway right now but I ran into Brian [Laundrie] just a little while ago.
Ok, where did you see him at?
I was at the parking lot for the Appalachian trial, north side of *reception drops out*
Ok, can you tell me, like, were you at an overlook… are you there?
Are you still there?
Yes I am.
Ok, You’re probably going through the gorge so you’ll lose service now and then. So where did you see him at?
On Waterville road.
Ok, just on Waterville or did you see him near a house, did you see a mailbox?
He was driving a truck and I stopped and talked to him.
Ok, was he going up Waterville or back towards 40?
He was going away from 40.
Ok. What color truck?
It was a white truck, I think it was a Ford F-150, I’m not 100% sure of that, and it was a kind of a newer model, it wasn’t like an old beater, it was a newer truck
Ok. What makes you say that it was him?
Well first off, I was making a U-turn in the road and he came up behind me and slowed down and kind of flashed his lights, like, telling me go ahead and go and I’m going to wait for you. And as I turned around and I’m coming back by him he’s waving his arm out of his truck, like, for me to slow down. And I pull up next to him I’m getting ready to go through the tunnel here hold on one second. Can you still hear me?
So when I stopped *reception cuts out*
I think I lost you.
He was talking wild, he said that his girlfriend loved him and he had to go out to California to see her. And he was asking me how to get to California and I said well you can get on I-40 right there and drive west and you’ll get there. And he said no I think I can go this way and kinda left and he was acting funny. I wasn’t sure about what he looked like, and then I went and parked and pulled up the photographs of him and I’m 99.99% sure that was him.
Ok. I’m going to let my sergeant know ok?
Can I have your name and phone number? Your phone number? *reception cuts out*
Alright. I’ll meet somebody out there if they want to. I’m telling you it was him.
Ok. Well like I said I’ll pass this along.
Alright, thank you.
Ok, Thank you.