Brian Laundrie is still America’s most wanted man — and that’s a label John Walsh knows all too well.
In a new special called “Gabby Petito: ID Special Report” airing Wednesday night, the famed “America’s Most Wanted” host weighs in on the case of Petito, 22, who was found dead after traveling across the country with her boyfriend Laundrie, 23. He’s now the subject of a manhunt after going missing in September, shortly after returning home alone from the trip.
On Tuesday, the Wyoming coroner revealed that Petito’s cause of death was manual strangulation. While the ID special emphasizes that the homicide investigation is ongoing and Laundrie is innocent until proven guilty, Walsh talks to Florida medical examiner Patricia Aronica, who reveals in the show that manual strangulation is “a very personal way to kill someone.”
“Usually it’s someone you know well, who has been close and in your personal space,” Aronica added.
Walsh speculates that Laundrie is currently being aided and abetted by his parents. “I absolutely believe that his family is helping him stay on the run,” he says
Walsh, who also hosts ID’s “In Pursuit With John Walsh,” additionally reveals that his own show’s hotline has been flooded with tips relating to possible sightings of Brian Laundrie.
Naturally, not all of them are reliable.
“We’ve got people from all over the world calling saying that Martians got him and took him to another planet, and he’s inside hiding in an alligator in a Louisiana swamp,” Walsh says in the special. But he’s also gotten “solid” tips of sightings of in the Bahamas — which Laundrie could have accessed from Florida via ferry, Walsh explains — and in Mexico.
“We’ve had over a thousand solid tips to the ‘In Pursuit’ hotline. Most of them are about my theory of his father driving him to the Mexican border and letting him go through Mexico. It’s a great time to be heading south, because [there are] thousands of refugees … I mean, he could walk across the border naked with his hair on fire, and nobody would notice him,” Walsh says. “I think that’s maybe where he’s hiding — and somebody might be helping him.”
However, Walsh also said he got a tip from an unnamed former friend of Petito and Laundrie’s, who said that Laundrie “bragged about living on the Appalachian trail for three months out of a backpack.”
Walsh concludes, “We got a lot of tips about the Appalachian trail,” even though he personally believes that Laundrie is in Mexico.
In addition to discussing Laundrie’s whereabouts, “Gabby Petito: ID Special Report” dives into an analysis of the role that social media has played in amplifying this case, the issue of media coverage overlooking missing black, indigenous and other people of color, and the issue of domestic violence.
Walsh, along with domestic violence experts such as One Love CEO Katie Hood, posit that Petito might have been saved if a social worker had accompanied cops when they responded to an Aug. 12 incident involving a domestic dispute between Petito and Laundrie while they traveled through Utah.
“Gabby Petito: ID Special Report” airs Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 9 p.m.