Brian Laundrie hit Gabby Petito with “a closed fist” during a violent argument in Utah last summer, a new witness claimed.
Petito went missing in late August 2021, sparking headlines worldwide for weeks as her family begged for help finding the 22-year-old.
Her body was found a month later in Wyoming, where, it later emerged, she’d been killed during a cross-country camping trip by Laundrie, her fiancé.
A witness tracked down by the Sun newspaper said he saw the violent argument between Petito and Laundrie in Moab, Utah, days before she disappeared — and he criticized police for treating Laundrie as the victim.
Laundrie and Gabby were arguing when she tried to make her way toward the back of their van, and Laundrie struck her, sending her stumbling into the side of the vehicle, the witness told the outlet.
“They were kind of yelling and then Brian swung at her, I believe it was his left hand,” said the witness, who was identified only as Chandler. “It was kind of like a slapping motion, but with a closed fist.”
Chandler said he’d been driving past while the couple fought and began yelling at each other. He said he saw some bystanders rush over to the pair, and thought they were calling 911, so he left.
Cops later stopped the couple’s van after a 911 call from someone saying Laundrie, 23, had slapped his girlfriend during an argument outside a local store.
The Petito family announced a $50 million lawsuit earlier this month against the Moab Police Department, claiming cops botched the Aug. 12, 2021 traffic stop, which happened just days before Gabby was murdered. The Petitos contend Moab police should have made an arrest, and protected a vulnerable Gabby.
An independent review into Moab Police Department’s conduct revealed one of the responding officers, Eric Pratt, never got a statement from the 911 caller but did speak to other witnesses, one of whom said only that the couple had been in a “dispute.”
The report, released in January, concluded Pratt and another officer who later pulled the couple over, made “unintentional mistakes,” including not getting a statement from the 911 caller.
Pratt later reported no one recalled seeing Brian hit Gabby, the Sun reported.
Laundrie, 23, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head that caused extensive fractures in his skull. His remains were discovered Oct. 20 near his parents’ home in Florida.