U.S. Marshals reportedly ambushed a man who resembled fugitive Brian Laundrie, who is being sought in connection with the homicide of Gabby Petito, according to a report published by The New Yorker on Saturday.
Severin Beckwith and Anna Brettmann of Ithaca, N.Y. were resting in a North Carolina hotel during a hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail when U.S. Marshals burst into the couple’s room before he could unlock the door.
“Next thing I see is a bunch of guys with riot shields with ‘U.S. Marshals’ written on them,” Beckwith said. “Handguns pointed at my face.”
A side-by-side photo comparison of Laundrie and Beckwith was posted on Twitter.
Brettmann was still in bed when the officers stormed into the room. While she got dressed, the Marshals handcuffed Beckwith and took him into the hallway. The fugitive lookalike said he had a feeling about why the arrest was happening, and just “really hoped” he was right.
Days before the incident, someone had reported Beckwith as resembling Laundrie, and when the officers arrived to find the couple had booked the room using an I.D. from New York – the same state that Petito was from – Beckwith concluded that it was a “good enough motive to come in.”
But Beckwith didn’t have an I.D. with Laundrie’s name on it, nor did he have the fugitive’s hand tattoos. After realizing they had the wrong man, the Marshals suggested Beckwith shave his beard, a move he “immediately regretted…because I have must less of a chin than Laundrie does.”
Before leaving, the Marshals reportedly told the couple they now had a good story to tell.
“He does look like Laundrie,” fellow hiker Maria Guzman said. “But so do thousands of people.”
Last week, roughly one month after 22-year-old Petito was found dead, the findings of her autopsy revealed that she was strangled to death.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue told reporters during a virtual press conference that he found the cause of death to be strangulation, and affirmed that the manner of her death was homicide.
Blue wouldn’t reveal whether the strangulation was caused by an object or someone’s hands.
Petito’s body was found in Grand Teton National Park on September 19, and was positively identified on September 21. Her family last heard from her in the last week of August, but she was not reported missing until September 11.
Laundrie was named a person of interest in her death, but has not been named a suspect. He was last seen on September 14.