That’s how vloggers Jenn and Kyle Bethune of Tampa, Florida, explained how they were able to provide video footage evidence that may have led investigators to the location of Gabby Petito’s body near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sunday.
The Bethunes, who travel across the country with their three children in a converted 1983 Silver Eagle bus they call “Blue Betty,” captured images on their GoPros of Petito’s white Ford Transit van parked on the dirt on the side of the road in Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area about 6 p.m. on Aug. 27. The vehicle was parked near where the FBI said a search later on Sunday found a body consistent with the description of the 22-year-old missing Blue Point woman.
The Bethunes are convinced that the spirit of their son, Ethan, who died in a car accident 10 years ago and would have turned 17 on Sunday, helped them find the footage from their GoPros just after midnight on Sunday.
“I truly believe that Ethan is trying to help us bring Gabby home. He led me to the footage we had from our GoPros and I found it at 12:05 a.m. on Sept. 19,” the Bethunes posted on their Instagram account @redwhiteandbethune. “Today is September 19th and Ethan’s birthday. He would have turned 17 today.”
The Bethunes’ post went live on Instagram a few hours before FBI Special Agent Charles Jones confirmed that its search in the camping area had discovered what were likely Petito’s human remains. Petito’s family had not heard from her since Aug. 25 and she was officially reported missing on Sept. 11.
Below is an Instagram post in which the Bethunes illustrate how they captured video of Petito’s van by happenstance.
In the YouTube video below, the Bethunes, who operate several GoPro cameras pointed inside and outside their big bus, further detail how and why they came across Petito’s van on Aug. 27, and how weeks later they managed to locate the images.
“We came across a white van that had Florida plates — a small white van. We were going to stop and say ‘Hi’ because we’re from Florida too,” Jenny Bethune said. “But the van was completely dark. There was nobody there, so we decided to continue on our way.”
Petito was traveling in the van throughout the summer with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. They were living the “van-life” and using social media to help document their trip to national parks and other locales in Wyoming and Utah.
Laundrie, 23, who like Petito is a graduate of Bayport-Blue Point High School, returned home to North Port, Florida, in the white van on Sept. 1, but without Petito. The couple moved to North Port from Long Island two years ago and were living with Laundrie’s parents.
Investigators on Wednesday began to call Laundrie a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance. And then by Friday, he too was reported missing. Police, who entered the Laundries’ home on Friday, said Laundrie’s parents said he had been missing since leaving for a hike on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
The power of social media has been on full display since news emerged of Petito’s disappearance, whether is was the hauntingly beautiful images she used to document her trip to western United States or the tens of thousands of posts that spread the word of her disappearance and yielded tips and clues.
Below is the Bethunes’ Instagram post crediting the spirit of their son Ethan, who died on Sept. 16, 2011, in a car wreck on a family drive to Disney World and would have turned 17 on Sunday.
“He helped us find this footage. I wholeheartedly believe that,” reads the Instagram post. “I just love that kid so very much. Happy Birthday Ethan, you continue to amaze us even from Heaven ♥️”
The FBI Denver shared an update on Sept. 18 that indicated their investigation involved locations in Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area and asked that people who traveled in that area “during the timeframe of August 27-30, 2021, and saw Gabby and/or her boyfriend or their vehicle, please provide that information to the FBI.”
Below is a photo and tribute that the Bethunes posted on their Instagram account on Sept. 16, the 10th anniversary of their son Ethan’s tragic passing.
Here are the Bethune discussing the footage and their efforts to benefit mental health during their weekly live post last night.