The images were taken on August 10 in Arches National Park by a fellow hiker called Tanner Gibbs who revealed them on Thursday, a day after police discovered human remains in a Florida swamp where Laundrie is believed to have been hiding for five weeks after allegedly strangling Gabby.
Gibbs was traveling with his wife and brother-in-law, who took photos that had Gabby and Brian in the background. Gabby posted some edited photos from the day on Instagram, in one of her final posts. She was last seen alive on August 26.
Speaking about the encounter with the doomed couple, he told DailyMail.com: ‘As you’re hiking out to the delicate arch, the same group people are hiking with you. They (Brian and Gabby) were among that group. My wife and I took notice of them right away because there are enthusiasts or amateurs, and you can tell right away they were enthusiasts.
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie are pictured on August 10 at the Arches National Park in Utah on one of their final hikes before she was strangled to death. The pair were seen by fellow hikers who said they seemed happy and relaxed. It was two days before police were called to their van to break up a domestic dispute
‘They definitely caught our attention. Nothing seemed out of place by any means. We eventually got up to the arch and everyone stood in line and waited their turn to take a photo.
‘The photos of them below the arch, that is where they were when I went out past them.
‘There was an individual taking photos for them and I said “must be nice having a personal photographer” and they offered to take a photo for me. I declined
‘They seemed friendly and in good spirits and happy to be there.’
Gibbs added: ‘My wife and I first took notice of the two of them while we were all hiking out to Delicate Arch in Arches National park. They stood out because they had the “van life” look to them and I remember feeling envious because they seemed like enthusiasts.’
He didn’t interact much with the pair, aside from asking them how they fared going down a steep hill to take photos which then appeared on Gabby’s Instagram post.
The pair spent a while taking photographs of one another at the park which they later edited and posted on Instagram
The wider view of the image shows Gabby and Brian standing among other hikers. The person who took the photos did not provide them to law enforcement
Gabby and Brian are shown taking photos of one another on a steep rock face at the National Park for their Instagram accounts
‘It was a steep slope down past them so in the process I asked how they got down. They gave me a few pointers and I made it down. While passing I made the comment “must be cool to have a personal photographer” referring to a gentleman that was taking their photo just moments before, and they offered to take mine. I respectfully declined and continued on.
‘Once we got back to our vehicle I noticed them approaching theirs. It further solidified how lucky I thought they were to be on this journey once I noticed they were getting into their little white van.
‘They ended up pulling out moments later and we exchanged a friendly nod as they passed. Truly tragic to know how this all has played out,’ he said.
The photos have emerged as authorities work to identify remains found near the Carlton Reserve in North Port, Florida, where Laundrie is believed to have been hiding for weeks.
The search of the park continued on Thursday with cadaver dogs, dune buggies and police cars, but authorities are being tight-lipped on what exactly they have found so far, and what they continue to search for.
Lee County Sheriff Carmen Marceno held a short press conference on Thursday afternoon but he mostly thanked and praised his law enforcement colleagues for working in ‘treacherous conditions’.
Gabby posted photos from the day on her Instagram account two days after they visited the site. It was one of her many posts about the trip
‘Today I got to see the treacherous conditions they were working under. We’re talking about water levels up to the chest area, rattle snakes, moccasins, alligators…These are very, very difficult conditions…you’re searching in areas where you can’t just walk up and look. It’s not like you’re searching a house or a car. These areas are huge and they are covered by water.’
This is the photo Brian was seen taking of Gabby as they stood on the steep rockface
‘It is challenging times. I know everybody wants to know exactly what’s going on every second possible. All of America is watching. But we will never jeopardize an investigation to give that information out until the time is right. I want to reiterate, things change by the second, by the minute,’ he said.
The FBI, North Port Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office all remain at the scene.
Bertolino also told CNN that he told the parents not to speak to Gabby’s family, the media, or ‘anybody’ after he vanished on September 13.
‘Now is not the right time to talk about the situation with Gabby.
‘The family was following my directions. I told them not to talk with anybody, not to say a word, I was the intermediary between the family and law enforcement.
‘Everybody has the right to remain silent and that’s what I told my clients and that’s what they did,’ he said.
Bertolino added that the remains are likely those of Brian, but that the family is waiting for a formal identification to take place.
‘The probability is strong that it is Brian’s remains, but we’re going to wait for the forensic results to come in and verify that,’ Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino said in a phone interview with CNN host Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night.
The remains were found north of the entrance to Myakkahatchee Creek, in the Big Slough Preserve, off an unpaved trail near a bridge where Brian’s parents said he liked to visit. It is four miles north of their home in North Port, Florida
The remains were discovered alongside items including a backpack and notebook belonging to Laundrie earlier on Wednesday, five weeks after he disappeared after going on a hike in the alligator-infested Florida swamp, and on the day his parents joined the search together for the first time.
Police activity Wednesday was focused on the nearby Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, where television news reports showed numerous law enforcement vehicles arriving and a tent set up inside the woods. The location is where a Ford Mustang that Laundrie drove to the wilderness was found.
Laundrie vanished on September 13, six days before the body of his fiancee Gabby Petito was found in Wyoming. She had been missing since August 26
In the interview, Bertolino said the belongings were found near a bridge connecting the the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park and the adjoining Carlton Reserve. The bridge is about four miles north of the Laundrie family home.
When asked why the parents had not joined the search at the park earlier, Bertolino pointed out that it had not been open to the public before Tuesday.
‘The parents had assumed that the experts, the FBI and all the tracking teams they had, would be able to locate Brian based upon the information that we had provided them to the specific areas and trails in the park that Brian liked to visit,’ he said.
The grim discovery of human remains was made in the Carlton Reserve in Florida, near Laundrie’s home, along with a backpack and notebook identified by the FBI as belonging to Laundrie. Bureau investigators are for the first time specifically calling Laundrie a ‘a person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito.’
Until Tuesday, the reserve had been sealed off to the public while investigators searched for any sign of the fugitive. It reopened on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning, Laundrie’s mother and father, Roberta and Chris, joined the search teams in the morning for the first time together.
Within a few hours, the remains – along with the other items – had been found. In a statement through their attorney, Roberta and Chris said they would reserve public comments until the remains had been identified.
According to Bertolino, Chris was the one to discover a white plastic dry bag belonging to Laundrie, which he found in the presence of a news reporter about 20 feet off the trail, while police discovered the backpack and human remains nearby.
‘Chris didn’t want to pick the bag up because he wanted law enforcement to see it. This was caught on camera. Chris couldn’t find the law enforcement because they were then out of sight, because Chris had been in the woods, so he didn’t want to leave the bag there with the news reporter standing nearby, so he picked it up,’ Bertolino said.
A police officer is pictured walking in the Carlton Reserve with what appears to be the dry bag discovered by Laundrie’s father in the preserve. The discovery was made on Wednesday, five weeks after he went on the run following the disappearance of his fiancée Gabby Petito. She was found strangled to death in September in Wyoming
Sheriffs departments, the North Port Police Department and the FBI are all still at the nature reserve on Thursday
The search of the nature reserve continued on Thursday morning. Authorities held a briefing on Thursday to say they were still working in the reserve but that they had not discovered anything else
‘He did meet up shortly with law enforcement. They looked at the contents of the bag.
‘At that time, law enforcement officers showed him a picture on the phone of a backpack that law enforcement had located also nearby, and also some distance off the trail.
‘At that point, the Laundries were notified that there was also remains near the backpack and they were asked to leave the preserve,’ he continued.
The Laundrie parents have been under a cloud of public suspicion since their son disappeared, including wild theories that they were hiding their son in an alleged bunker under their garden, but Bertolino said that the family informed the FBI on the night of September 13 that their son had not returned from a hike that day.
Laundrie’s parents had not spoken publicly or to Gabby’s parents about what they may know about her murder, which Bertolino insisted had been on his own legal advice.
‘They know it’s been hard. But ultimately, you know, this is the advice I gave them. This is the advice they’re taking, and that’s on me,’ he said. ‘I’m the one who told them not to talk. That’s been on me from day one. That’s not on the family.’
The FAA has issued a temporary suspension on flights over the park – that applies to drones and aircraft – until 4pm Friday.
At a briefing at 4.30pm, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson identified Laundrie as ‘a person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito.’
It marked the first time that the FBI has called Gabby’s death a murder, rather than a homicide, as well as the first time Laundrie was identified as a person of interest. Previously, authorities had been referring to him just as a wanted suspect for theft, for using Gabby’s bank card.
If the remains are identified are Brian’s, it brings a somber end to a hunt for a killer that has captivated the nation.
Pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told DailyMail.com that it is likely the FBI already know whether the remains are Brian’s, and that they would have been able to confirm it immediately, but are waiting for more examination to determine the cause of death.
‘Dental is 99.9 percent immediately accurate. They know it’s him. But the cause of death might still take a while to determine. The cause of death has to be determined at autopsy, which probably won’t be performed till tomorrow or the next day,’ he said.
Chris and Roberta Laundrie are shown arriving home on Wednesday after human remains, a backpack and a notebook were found in the Florida nature reserve where their son Brian is believed to have been hiding for five weeks. The couple have not spoken to the media or to the family of Gabby Petito, their son’s fiancée who was found murdered in Wyoming. The couple arrived home to flowers and cards on Wednesday, but there were also hecklers