Van lifer goes missing on cross country trip with fiancee

How do you figure other people–coworkers, customers, whoever hires him–wouldn’t recognize him even without an ID? I saw the sketches the forensic artist made of him with varying facial hair and hair color, and he still looked readily identifiable. There are always people who don’t pay attention to the news or social media, but it only takes one person to recognize him, right?

Honestly, he just looks like a random hipster to me. But I get it: just “one person” needs to recognize him. I think we might just be prone to overestimating the prevalence of exposure to the 24-hour news cycle (mainstream and national). Sure, maybe everyone you or I know happens to know about this story and might be vaguely curious about the new white/bald dude showing up to work, but my sense is that there are still population pockets where it is possible that NO ONE is much plugged into the mainstream 24-hour news cycle. Missing white woman syndrome is a “thing” because it plays so well with people who have money to buy products (advertising revenue) in the US. That’s disproportionately wealthy and disproportionately white. Find a place that’s poor and disproportionately not-so-white (but I’d wager mostly just poor would do, never mind race/ethnicity) and you may find people don’t have so much time or exposure to the news. Particularly when it comes to things of such little consequence to them–indeed, seems to be aimed at explicitly ignoring their existence, as they doubt very much they’d get so much attention if they went “missing.”

Throw in some facial hair and some “just don’t give a damn enough to notice” among co-workers and neighbors, and I could easily see him finding work as a day laborer. He might even succeed in finding regular employment, particularly as time passes and the news cycle moves on.

Definitely Laundrie, if he’s trying to live in another part of the country, would be crazy to try to get any kind of job or etc anytime in the next year. With enough passage of time, enough hair growing out etc he’ll be fine, but he has to lay low if he’s alive.

I have to guess it’s probably still decently possible to get by without a recorded pay check. I have a guy that mows my lawn and does light landscaping, he accepts payment through Venmo, PayPal, CashApp and a few other things, or cash. He won’t take a check. All of those services let you register without even a bank account, and have ways to get cash out of them even without a bank account. I assume people doing jobs like that probably only claim a portion, if any, of their income for tax purposes.

I used to be a regular at a bar some 15 years ago, I got to know one of the guys who was a bartender. He had started as a bar back when I first started drinking there, but he was a little old for a bar back (he was in his mid-30s, most bars I go to bar backs are younger.) Anyway, I got to know him well enough we’d talk a bit, and it eventually came out he hadn’t had a checking account or any financial records in years. He had gotten so deep into child support he basically fled his old life behind, rented a room in cash from friend, didn’t give anyone his mailing address, used pre-paid cell phones, and the bar owner paid him in cash, off the books. You have to wonder how common that is. He certainly wasn’t living high and mighty, but he seemed content enough.

Years after I had stopped going to that bar (owner changed, bar went downhill), maybe 2-3 years ago in fact, I was heading into a bar in that same neighborhood and saw him, we chatted briefly. I didn’t exactly ask if he was still living off the grid, but he mentioned he was tending bar at another place these days, as far as I could tell he was still up to his same lifestyle.

The big risk if you’re trying to live a new identity is kind of how the percentages work though right? If you have a new job that requires regular contact with the public or lots of people, then if only 1 in 50 people is aware of this story, that still means you probably come into contact with a person like that, let’s say once a week. Each of those contact points is a chance you’re recognized. It adds up over time.

There’s lots of jobs out there where your contact with the public is greatly reduced, and those are probably the best bet for “on the lam” jobs, but some of the better jobs where you get paid under the table, or at least can get paid under the table, tend to have at least some regular interactions with the public–small restaurants, handyman work etc. Those are hard jobs to do without seeing new people every day.

A fractured hyoid bone can potentially survive a lot of decay and sure helps in making that determination, at least in some cases. Don’t know if that was the case here or not, but it might have been.

Thanks to COVID, I haven’t even seen the faces of my two newest hires.

Why wait for hair? I keep thinking that with a curly wig he’d be a ton less unrecognizable.

Maybe toss a ball cap on (some east coast team…). Add a pair of mirror shades and a “Rainbow Pride” t-shirt…

eta: Or a suit and tie! We’ve only seen his “Brian the hippie” look so far…

Didn’t Laurencia “Bambi” Bambenek, the Playboy Bunny “killer” who escaped from prison, get identified after her face had been show on one of those “Unsolved Mystery” shows?

Maybe. But when I look at the footage from the Moab police stop, I see a guy who’s not only enjoying the fact that he’s Getting Away With This—I see a guy who’s gleeful.

I just can’t picture that guy being tortured by his conscience. I suspect he’s managed to rationalize what he did.

I’ve dealt with a fair number of convicted murderers (including 2 serial killers) doing 30+ to life. Some seem remorseless, some seem consumed by regret, some are consumed by self pity, and try to off themselves for that reason. A hopeless killer may choose himself as his final “victim”. Or not. I don’t predict what they will do. But I sure haven’t been surprised by whatever they end up doing.

Your mileage may vary; your past experience with such individuals may have led you to other conclusions.

I can’t forget the words she said when they were pulled over. She said she apologized to him for being so mean. It just seems like something a person would say to a manipulator.

Pretty much as I thought: he choked her, probably after a confrontation similar to the one they had in Moab.

My hunch is that he’s not dead. If he killed himself he’d probably do it so that they could find his body at least - he certainly wouldn’t care if they did find him. He could have gotten killed in an accident (i.e. swimming out into a swamp and gotten eaten by alligators), but I don’t think that’s likely. He’s narcissistic, has a sense of entitlement. He believes he deserves to live and that it’s Gabby’s fault he killed her.

One thought is, well if he’s narcissistic, he probably believes people would believe his story and that he can beat the system, so he’d be working with his legal team to prove his innocence – some narcissists would. But I think he’s different. I think he might have entertained that idea initially but realized (either on his own or by his parents’ reaction) that he wouldn’t be very credible, so his fallback was to survive on his own out in the woods. He’s confident - probably over confident - in his abilities to survive on the trail and elude law enforcement.

If he prepared well enough, he might have maybe a month’s supply of beans, rice, noodles, or whatever. He might have found cabins to raid. If he knows some of the national and state parks in the Southeastern US well he could probably survive on his own for a month or two. Over time, he’ll get more confident going into small towns along the trails. He’ll have a beard so he won’t be immediately recognizable. I think he’ll eventually screw up - he’ll get too comfortable. Someone will notice something.

Yup, America’s Most Wanted. She’d been on the run for three months, and had, in fact, fled from Wisconsin to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

I don’t think killers like this generally commit suicide because they are just oh so sad–I would assume Laundrie would not have done it for that reason. I won’t pretend to be an expert on suicide, but I think it’s almost never as simple as “oh I’m so sad.” Clinical depression, sure. Obviously, there’s millions of suicides and each is a little different. My hunch is a lot of murder-suicide types commit suicide because they simply realize their life as they want it to be has ended, and they simply don’t want to live a life where they might have to face consequences for what they’ve done. The last way they can get one over on the world is to remove themselves from it, they’ve removed the person that angered them, now they will remove the whole world but killing themselves.

I once heard a good radio program on murder-suicides (I think it was on NPR for the 10th Anniversary of Columbine), and the psych guy they had on had an interesting take that murder-suicide types commit suicide for a reason relatively different from a lot of typical suicides. It’s often rage driven, the act of suicide is their final act of violence against the world, because in their minds by killing themselves, removing themselves from the world with a self-destructive act of violence, they’re taking one final blow at the world as their life ends.

FWIW the two guys on the FBI Most Wanted list who fit this M.O.–Eugene Palmer and Robert Fisher, I doubt they went out and specifically tried to “hide” their suicide. I think it’s more if you go out into a large wilderness, say walk 6 hours, off yourself. That’s actually a big search radius. Additionally, depending on the terrain, scavenging animals and other factors, it may be incredibly hard to find your body. There are tons of stories of people who die in the wilderness and aren’t found even from intensive searches, but sometimes like 2-5 years later some guy walking a trail with his dog will find a human bone and the police are called in, and it ends up being the person missing. The spot where the skeleton found may even have been covered in the initial search area. It’s just very easy for bodies to fall into places where they aren’t easily found, the wilderness is big. In many ways a living person is easier to find because they would keep making new camps, leaving behind evidence dogs would likely find (gotta shit somewhere, for example) and things of that nature. Someone who offs themselves and their body rolls or is dragged into some brush by a scavenger, that’s going to be incredibly difficult to find.

My initial reaction to this case was that the parents helped him flee and he was not a suicide. But the more we’ve learned about him and the specifics of his parents movements, the less I think any high level “escape plan” was concocted with his parents aid, and the more likely it seems to me he was an emotionally disturbed young man who did what is most likely for emotionally disturbed young men whose circumstances have exceeded their capacity to deal.

If he’s still alive, my 2nd guess on what he’s doing is hiding out in relatively decent circumstances with a very trusted friend. Maybe in a friend’s like parent’s cabin that they never use, or something like that. I don’t think he’s scavenging cabins or whatever. People do that all the time, but it gets noticed, some camp areas are well known for homeless people living in the woods and raiding unoccupied cabins. I think Laundrie would be likely to set off attention if he suddenly injected himself into that world.

Um… you realize in that footage he hadn’t done anything yet.

I believe Sherred was referring to Laundrie getting away with (alleged) domestic violence, not the murder.

Really hard to know when people do not write or speak plainly. A recurring issue on the SDMB.

It’s a recurring issue everywhere. My assumption was based on the context clues, including “every domestic abuser ever,” along with the fact that everyone who’s seen the Moab police stop video Sherredd refers to has seen Gabby Petito talking and crying on that video. Logically, then, Sherredd couldn’t have been referring to BL’s demeanor after the murder.

That’s right. In the video I referenced–the Moab cop stop–Brian had been seen by witnesses slapping his girlfriend, but the cops were buying his story that “she’s crazy” and somehow it was all her fault. He looked pretty pleased with himself.

I’m not seeing how any of that could have been unclear to a reader of English with at least average ability (and with an average level of knowledge of the case).

I don’t know. It’s an encounter with the police and people do strange things when they get nervous. You read the supposed lists of things for spot potential criminals and they are contradictory. They are too quiet. They are talking too much. Etc.