On Sept. 19, human remains swiftly identified as belonging to Petito were discovered in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest, near the Spread Creek site. After an autopsy, the Teton County coroner ruled her death a homicide.
A Louisiana couple told CNN a few days after Petito was confirmed dead that they had seen a “commotion” go down between the young woman and Laundrie at Merry Piglets Tex-Mex in Jackson, Wyo., on Aug. 27. She was in tears and Laundrie, looking angry, got up from their table and walked in and out of the restaurant several times. A manager at the establishment witnessed the incident as well and called the FBI on Sept. 22, CNN reported.
Also on Aug. 27, vloggers Kyle and Jenn Bethune captured footage on their GoPros of the white van parked in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area, about 25 miles away from the restaurant, between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
“We figured maybe they were out hiking or they were just chilling inside,” Kyle told CNN.
The last text Schmidt received from her daughter’s phone Aug. 27 read, “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.” “Stan” was Petito’s grandfather, Schmidt said, but she didn’t call him that. The message made her “concerned that someone was wrong with her daughter,” noted the timeline of events North Port Police compiled to get a search warrant for an external hard drive found in the Ford van, which was obtained by Florida’s NBC 8 News.
The warrant noted that, in once-frequent communication between Petito and her mother prior to her disappearance, “there appeared to be more and more tension between her and Laundrie.”
Hundreds of mourners joined Petito’s family in honoring her at a Sept. 26 memorial in Holbrook, N.Y. Countless more watched the livestreamed service online. But there are still infinitely more questions about her fate than there are answers.