Brian Laundrie manhunt: Woman in Wyoming says she picked him up hitchhiking

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EXCLUSIVE: A second woman has come forward to say she gave a hitchhiking Brian Laundrie a ride in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Aug. 29, two days after Gabby Petito was last seen.

The first woman, Miranda Baker, said in videos posted to TikTok on Sept. 17 that she and her boyfriend picked up Laundrie, 23, at 5:30 p.m. MST on Aug. 29 after spotting him hitchhiking on the side of the road. She said she spoke with police about the encounter.  

Norma Jean Jalovec, a seasonal Wyoming resident from Florida, told Fox News Digital on Friday that after seeing Baker’s TikTok video, she realized she had also picked up Laundrie on Aug. 29 and dropped him off around 6:30 or 6:40 MST at the Spread Creek dispersed camping area, where Petito’s remains were discovered weeks later.

22-year-old Gabby Petito from New York’s Long Island was reported missing on Saturday by her family after her fiancé returned home alone from a cross-country road trip the two had embarked on in early July. (Steve Petito)

Jalovec said she spontaneously decided to visit a Catholic church called Chapel of the Sacred Heart in Grand Teton National Park that Sunday for its 5 p.m. MST service. The church is about 1.2 miles from Jackson Lake Dam, where Baker said she dropped Laundrie off after he “freaked out” and asked to get out of the couple’s Jeep.

Jalovec said she picked him up around 6:15 or 6:20 past the dam near Pacific Creek Landing. He was walking backward and holding out his thumb, like so many do in that area of the National Park, she told Fox News.

“I picked him up…” Jelovec said. “… Something just said, ‘Hey, ask him where he’s going.'”

Laundrie, who sat in the passenger seat of Jalovec’s 4Runner, asked if she was going to Jackson. When she told him no because she lives in the opposite direction, he asked her if she’d drop him off at the Spread Creek dispersed camping area, which she agreed to, Jalovec said.

Spread Creek is about a 20-minute drive from the dam.

Grand Teton National Park in Moose, Wyo. (Fox News, Audrey Conklin)

“Everything’s legitimate. Everything’s corroborated. I already talked to the FBI,” Jalovec said, adding that she didn’t realize she had given a ride to Laundrie until after she saw Baker’s TikTok video and emphasized the important role social media has played in helping to solve this case.

Baker similarly explained in her video that she realized it was the 23-year-old person of interest in Petito’s missing person case after watching videos on TikTok. 

Spread Creek in Bridger-Teton National Forest (Fox News, Audrey Conklin)

Jalovec described having the same small talk with Laundrie that Baker reported in her TikTok. He told her that he spent time hiking near Snake River and that he had a fiancé. He told her he had seen elk and moose but no bison, and when he asked her if she needed any gas money, she said no.

On the ride to Spread Creek, Jalovec said she took a sharp right turn, causing a Bible on her dashboard to fall onto Laundrie’s lap. He picked up the book and put it back on the dashboard. 

The 23-year-old asked Jalovec to drop him off at the gate of the remote campground, which has a single dirt road that extends miles to various camping sites in the area; at 6:30 p.m. MST in August, there would have still been some daylight to see into the camping area. Jalovec responded saying she could drive him inside, which is when he tried to “get out of the moving car,” she said.

Moran Vista camping area in Bridger-Teton National Forest (Fox News, Audrey Conklin)

“I can’t explain why I was there,” Jalovec said of her decision to go to the church in Grand Teton that day and pick up a hitchhiker. “It was something I don’t typically do. I don’t pick up hitchhikers in Florida. I’ve gotten so much s***t from family and friends for picking up a hitchhiker.”

Jalovec said she joked with Laundrie about wanting to impress his fiancé by hiking into the campground rather than hitching a ride, but he only responded by insisting that he be let out of the vehicle.

Spread Creek dispersed campgrounds in Bridger-Teton National Forest (Fox News, Audrey Conklin)

Petito, the deceased 22-year-old, and Laundrie were traveling together from New York to Oregon in a white 2012 Ford Transit van that they converted into a camper. Teton County coroner Brent Blue ruled her death as a homicide on Tuesday, according to the FBI.

Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11, weeks after she last sent her mother a text message on Aug. 27, which is when blogger Jenn Bethune and her husband spotted Petito’s van in the dispersed camping area.

Laundrie returned home to North Port, Fla., where the couple lived with Laundrie’s parents, 10 days earlier on Sept. 1 with no sign of his fiancé. Authorities recovered the van on Sept. 11, and began a forensic examination of the vehicle on Sept. 14.

The FBI on Thursday said the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the disappearance and homicide of deceased Gabby Petito.

The warrant alleges that Laundrie committed debit card fraud between Aug. 30, 2021, and Sept. 1, 2021.

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones and Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.

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