Hiker Alleges Brian Laundrie Sighting Near AT As Rumors Swirl
A Florida man claims he saw Brian Laundrie near the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina early Saturday morning. The unconfirmed sighting adds fuel to weeks of online speculation that Laundrie may be hiding out on the AT.
Dennis Davis, 53, was in his vehicle searching for an AT parking lot north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park around 12:30 a.m. Saturday when a man in a pickup truck flagged him down to ask for directions. The man reportedly seemed dazed and wanted to drive across the country via backroads to visit his girlfriend.
“No doubt” it was Laundrie.
Following the strange encounter, Davis says he started to wonder if it could have been Laundrie.
After looking up photos of Laundrie online, Davis became convinced of his identity. “There is no doubt about it. That was Brian Laundrie I was just talking to,” Davis told Fox News on Saturday. He called the FBI and local law enforcement but reportedly received no follow-up.
The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office told a local news outlet yesterday that “we have received a number of calls regarding the sighting of Brian Laundrie over the past several days, each one being investigated thoroughly and areas of concern searched, but all to no avail.”
Person of Interest
Laundrie became a person of interest in the death of Gabby Petito after he returned home without her from a cross-country road trip the couple had taken together. Petito was declared missing and subsequently found dead in a Wyoming national forest.
Laundrie himself has been missing since September 14th, five days before authorities found Petito’s body. Laundrie’s parents told police that he left their home on September 11th with a backpack. They said they believed he was heading to a sprawling nature preserve nearby.
He has not been explicitly charged with any crime in connection with the case, though there is a warrant for his arrest for bank fraud committed after Petito’s death.
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Speculation and Rumors
While authorities have focused their search on Florida’s Carlton Reserve, amateur sleuths have suggested he may be on the AT. As evidence that Laundrie is familiar with the trail, some point to a March 27th Instagram post implying that Petito hiked on the AT with Laundrie for her birthday.
Meanwhile, a friend of Petito’s told People that Laundrie had spent months living alone in the Appalachian Mountains before and said she was convinced that “if he’s alive, he’s out there, camping out.”
Some have drawn parallels between this case and that of Eric Rudolph, the man who fatally bombed the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and successfully evaded arrest for five years in North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest near the AT.
Davis remains adamant that the man he saw on Saturday was Laundrie. “I am not some goofball out there doing drugs in the middle of the night,” said Davis, an engineer, to the New York Post. “I am a highly educated professional.”
He said the man was wearing a bandana and driving a light-colored pickup truck that may have been a Ford F-150.
Featured image via Instagram.
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Perhaps cite more valid news sources than Fox and the Post?
The guys story sounds weird. Supposedly he was a thru hiker, but was driving around on Waterville Road at 2:30 am? And ran into Brian Laundrie driving around on Waterville Road at 2:30 am as well?
What was a thru hiker doing driving around GSMNP in the middle of the night?
I wouldn’t stop for “15-30 minutes” to chat with a guy who was “acting weird” on a dark road in the middle of nowhere at 2:30 am…. Besides the power plant/dam, there is nothing there. There is nothing for 10 miles on either direction of I-40 in that area.
So what was a thru hiker doing driving around in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere?
My car has California plates and was parked on Waterville Rd at the Big Creek Ranger Station that night. Brian was supposedly wanting to get to California, he could have easily stolen my car and taken it to Cali, or chill out in the woods until I showed up to my car at 4pm that afternoon…
The guys story doesn’t make sense.