A Brian Laundrie lookalike was ambushed by a team of U.S. Marshals in a North Carolina cabin he was staying in with his girlfriend as federal agents continue the hunt for the missing man.
Laundrie remains a person of interest in the homicide of his fiancée, 22-year-old Gabby Petito, whose remains were found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest in mid-September. A medical examiner confirmed that Petito died from strangulation. Laundrie, 23, hasn’t been seen since Sept. 13, according to his parents, authorities say.
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The Laundrie lookalike, Severin Beckwith, along with his girlfriend, Anna Brettmann, was staying at the Lodge at Fontana Village Resort along the Appalachian Trail. (Several tips and reports have placed Laundrie on the large, remote hiking trail, though there has been no corroboration of any sighting.)
Beckwith and Brettman were relaxing in their cabin following lunch when a group of U.S. Marshals burst in, according to the New Yorker.
“Next thing I see is a bunch of guys with riot shields with ‘U.S. Marshals’ written on them, handguns pointed at my face,” said Beckwith to the publication. He was handcuffed and pulled aside, he claimed.
The U.S. Marshals showed Beckwith a photo of himself that had been taken by a Lodge employee and sent to authorities. Both Laundrie and Beckwith are white with a similar slim build and both have shaved heads and beards. One marshal even pointed to Beckwith’s left ear, which had a “notch” similar to Laundrie’s.
Adding to the suspicion, Beckwith and Brettmann had booked the cabin with a credit card connected with a New York ID — and Petito was originally from Long Island.
Ultimately, after some further examination by the marshals, Beckwith was released. He presented his personal identification to verify his name, and he also didn’t have the same tattoos as Laundrie.
“In this instance, the Graham County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) in North Carolina had received a tip that the fugitive Brian Laundrie had been sighted in their jurisdiction,” said a U.S. Marshals spokesperson to Vice News in a statement.
“GCSO asked the USMS task force to support them in making contact with the subject. The USMS was not the lead investigative agency in this matter and was acting in support of the GCSO.”
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The U.S. Marshals fingerprinted Beckwith and allegedly advised him to shave his beard to avoid further misidentification.
As compensation for the mistake, the couple was given a free night’s stay and a free breakfast buffet at the lodge.
Last Friday, Petito’s father Joseph posted an image from inside Bridger-Teton, seemingly indicating that they had scattered her ashes in the national park.
There is a federal warrant out for Laundrie’s arrest on charges of credit card fraud. The FBI search is ongoing.
An FBI hotline has been set up for anyone who has information on Gabby Petito: 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324)
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story said the Lodge was located in Ithaca, NY. It’s actually in North Carolina. The article has been edited to reflect that. Global News regrets the error.
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