The witness who thinks he not only spotted but spoke to Brian Laundrie over the weekend is giving more details about the addled fugitive.
For those who didn’t see the surprising update, hiker Dennis Davis told told The New York Post he randomly met Gabby Petito‘s boyfriend on a road along the Appalachian Trail near the Tennessee border of North Carolina in the wee hours of Saturday morning, about 12:30 a.m.
He claims he was in his own car when a light-colored truck (white or silver, it was dark) pulled up, and the driver asked him for directions on how to get to California:
“He said ‘man, I’m lost.’ I said ‘what are you trying to find?’ and he said ‘me and my girlfriend got in a fight, but she called me, told me she loves me, and I have to get to California to see her.”
He says he told the the 23-year-old how to get to the I-40 — but the stranger declined to take the major road and drove away. Davis looked up photos after the meeting and now says he has “no doubt” the man he met was Laundrie.
Now in a new interview with DailyMail.com he’s sharing more about that potentially crucial chance encounter.
For instance, he says the road Laundrie told him he’d take to California was a two-lane country back road called Waterville Road — which obviously wouldn’t get him even close! However, Davis says:
“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.”
A little weird — enough for Davis to get creeped out anyway!
“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?”
That’s when he pulled up photos online and compared them to the mental image he still had in his mind. He recalls:
“The thing that stood out when I saw Brian was he had this really dark beard and mustache, very thick but short. I saw the photos and I knew it was him. I immediately started looking for the FBI number.”
It sounds like Brian didn’t want anyone to get a good look at him:
“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. I’ve never seen a murderer face-to-face.”
How certain was he?
“I was ready to go catch the guy. I made six calls to law enforcement.”
Describing Brian’s current look, Davis explains even more why he didn’t recognize him right away:
“What I noticed about him in the photos is he’s bald. 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.”
Did he look like a man with the law right on his tail? Eh…
“He looked fairly well kept. He looked thoroughly clean and well kept. The incident itself was pretty short and sweet.”
Sweet? Well, Davis says the man he thinks was Laundrie was “nice” — but only “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.”
Not all there?
“There was something wrong with him. I was almost gonna ask him if he was okay but at that point I was more worried about getting out of there.”
Honestly this sounds a lot like the way he was described by the TikToker and her boyfriend who gave him a ride when he was hitching in Wyoming.
And we can’t blame any of them for wanting to get away as quickly as possible. Of course, knowing who the guy was (or at least who he believes he was) changed Davis’ view of the situation:
“When I first saw him I kind of thought he was on drugs because he was acting weird. 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.”
So is anyone investigating the Appalachian Trail? We learned from a friend of his and Gabby’s that Brian is a skilled survivalist who has lived on his own in the Appalachians before, for months. And if, as many have speculated, he never really went on that hike into the Carlton Reserve like his parents claimed, he’s certainly had a big enough head start to make it there.
Davis was initially disappointed that no one was investigating his claim. However, he says a North Carolina sheriff eventually reached out to him to tell him they had looked into it:
“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.”
The detective told him there was an hourlong search in which they had found only one car, no trucks. Davis says:
“I felt relieved that they had actually done something. But I have not heard directly from the FBI or the Tennessee 911 system.”
It certainly seems like the most solid lead we’ve heard about in this entire manhunt. You’d think there would be more attention paid to it.
One person who is looking into the tip? Dog The Bounty Hunter, who called Davis personally Sunday night to listen to the story. Will the search shift from Florida? Do YOU think it should??
[Image via Brian Laundrie/Instagram/Google Maps]