‘Something very off': Gabby Petito showed signs of 'fear' around Brian Laundrie in new footage, says expert

‘Something very off': Gabby Petito showed signs of 'fear' around Brian Laundrie in new footage, says expert
A body language expert has claimed that Gabby Petito showed signs of fear and closed herself off from Brian Laundrie in the couple's last known footage (Screenshot/FOX 10 Phoenix)

JACKSON, WYOMING: A body language expert has claimed that Gabby Petito showed signs of "fear" and appeared "closed off" to Brian Laundrie on a recently released surveillance footage. The recently released video from a Wyoming Whole Foods store shows Petito and Laundrie browsing grocery store shelves on August 27, 2021. That was the day Petito was last seen alive in public. The footage, obtained by Fox News Digital, shows Petito's white Ford Transit van pulling into the parking lot around 2.11 pm. That was shortly after the two left the Merry Piglets Tex-Mex restaurant in town. At Merry Piglets, a public altercation reportedly occurred between Laundrie and three female employees of the restaurant.

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After pulling into the grocery store parking lot, Petito and Laundrie sit in the car for a minute. Laundrie then gets out on the driver's side and slams the door before approaching the back of the car. He can be seen retrieving a hat from the rear compartment. Petito then comes into view from the passenger side. The two then approach the store together, Fox News Digital reports.

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The two walk through the store for about 15 minutes, with Petito selecting some cheese from a display at one point and placing it in a tote bag. Then they leave the store through a different door than the one through which they entered. They return to the van, where they sit for another 20 minutes before turning onto Highway 89. This is the road that leads to the campground in the Bridger-Teton National Forest where Petito's remains were found about 3 weeks later. Petito's death was ruled a homicide by manual strangulation. Laundrie later died by suicide.

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“As soon as they are seen walking toward the door you notice something very off," body language expert Patti Wood told The US Sun. “It's very clear that she's afraid and closed off from him. She’s closed down, cut off, and is so small and tiny. She looks frightened and they're not communicating with each other."

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Wood said that before Petito was killed, Laundrie "wasn’t giving any loving comfort cues" in the video. “He puts his arm up and around her in an awkward possession hug," she said. He wasn’t looking at her face. He tilted his head down thinking ‘it’ll be okay.'"

Gabby Petito disappeared while on a road trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie (gabspetito/Instagram)
Gabby Petito disappeared while on a road trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie (gabspetito/Instagram)

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Wood further said, "The possession hold was up high and pushing down and gripping the other side of the arm. It wasn’t down and around the waist which would show them getting along. It's up and down upon them."

She continued, "Some women can cuddle up into that and tilt their head into that and feel protected. So it can be, it can turn into a protective hold. But in this case, it shows possession."

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Wood explained that Petito's body language pointed to "lack of power" in the relationship. Gabby is pulling away, her body is tight and collapsed down and closed. It shows her lack of power," she said.

Gabby Petito (Instagram)
Gabby's final hours were captured on a surveillance video from a Wyoming Whole Foods on August 27, 2021 (Instagram)

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She explained, "Laundrie is showing power but she is showing vulnerability and powerlessness. Her extreme discomfort is shown by her walking with her head slightly down, shoulders down, arms wrapped tightly around the front of her body in a 'Protective Shaw' hold. It looks like her hand on one side is hidden under her arm so that he can't try to touch and hold it."

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Wood said Petito's body language shows she was afraid of being attacked. "She is also walking with her legs extremely close together which could indicate a fear of attack," Wood said. She is afraid of him and closed off from him."

Wood also said the pair's body language reveals there were signs of a fight. "[Gabby] remains closed, tense, and small indicating these are victim cues rather than anger cues on her part. Laundrie putting his hands in his pockets shows him trying to hide his frustration. If people saw them in the parking lot, most would’ve thought they had a fight. They would think that she isn’t happy with him. The signs are obvious," she said.

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Gabby Petito was engaged to Brian Laundrie (L) (Instagram/Brian Laundrie)
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie (Brian Laundrie/Instagram)

Wood went on to explain how grocery shopping is an intimate act for a couple in their case, it appears as though they are not even together in the store. “Normally women would put their bags on the outside so they can walk with their sweethearts. They are not in the store together even though it’s just the two of them on this trip," she said.

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Wood added, "You would think that they would want to make decisions together. One of the most intimate things you can do with your partner is grocery shop with them."

Wood explained that the footage shows Petito's "victimhood." "We only see she was frightened," Wood said. “The arm that [Brian] tries to put around her is a way of him saying that ‘we are a couple.' I've got to make it seem like that I'm a good guy." She added, "People may not want to have interfered as their relationship is part of their private life."

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The case began drawing national interest after Laundrie returned home to Florida on September 1 last year without his girlfriend after a cross-country road trip. Days later, Laundrie went missing. Petito's remains were discovered first, and days later, Laundrie too was found dead.

Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, his family lawyer confirmed on November 23, 2021. The manner of death was determined to be suicide, as per a forensic anthropologist. A gun from his parents Chris and Roberta Laundrie's home had been missing ever since their son took off. When his parents reported him missing in September, they had turned over all of the firearms in their home to the FBI. One gun, however, appeared to be missing. There was a DNA analysis that confirmed the identity of the remains as Brian Laundrie. This was in addition to a dental comparison, and a forensic anthropologist doing a skeletal reconstruction.

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Laundrie's diary was later recovered, where he wrote that he killed Petito out of mercy. Laundrie claimed in his diary that he killed Petito after she fell into a creek and injured herself at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Medical Examiners Michael Baden and Cyril Wecht later told Fox News that they are doubtful of these claims.

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