‘I’m 99.99% sure’: Man claims he encountered Brian Laundrie in NC mountains

HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. — A 911 caller in Haywood County said he was 99% sure he spotted Gabby Petito’s fiancé, Brian Laundrie, near the North Carolina/Tennessee border.

Dennis Davis reported to police that he had an encounter with Laundrie near the border over the weekend. Davis alerted the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office during a 911 call.

He said he saw Laundrie in a white pickup truck around 12:30 a.m. Sunday. The area is just off Interstate-40 near the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

“I started talking to him -- immediately, I could tell there was something wrong with the guy,” Davis said. “I thought that maybe he was on drugs or something at first. What he said to me at the start was he said, ‘Hey man, I’m lost.’ I asked myself a minute, could that be Brian Laundrie? And so, as soon as I got off the exit there, I pulled up on my phone and looked at a picture of him … and I’m 99.99% sure that was him.”

The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office said it has received a number of calls about potential sightings, adding that they’ve followed up on those calls but have not found any leads so far.

Both the Avery County and Watauga County sheriff’s offices told Channel 9 they are also actively involved in the search for Laundrie.

Authorities have called Laundrie a “person of interest” in Petito’s murder, but no one has seen him for weeks. Petito was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after she didn’t respond to calls and texts for several days while she and Laundrie visited parks in the West.

Her body was then discovered in a remote area in northwestern Wyoming. Laundrie and Petito grew up on Long Island but in recent years moved to Florida.

Laundrie is wanted on a bank fraud charge and has been identified as a person of interest, but has been missing since Sept. 14, according to his lawyer.

Hikers heading out to the Appalachian Trail Tuesday said they were aware of the nationwide search for Laundrie and sightings in the area.

“Definitely,” hiker Chris Spano told Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty. “There’s very little foot traffic heading northbound. Most of the through hikers are heading southbound. He may have changed his look. He may have grown a beard.”

Less than a mile away, Faherty spoke with Tessa Fox who lives nearby and saw the huge police presence last weekend near the Appalachian Trail after a possible sighting.

She also noticed a man acting unusual prior to the search.

“I (saw) a man wandering around with his backpack walking like he just came out of the woods,” Fox said. “Literally, it was scary.”

Fox said she thought it could have been Laundrie after seeing a photo of him.

(WATCH BELOW: Watauga County authorities monitoring tips on Brian Laundrie sightings in NC)


Brian Laundrie’s sister urges him to ‘come forward’ amid nationwide search

Cassie Laundrie said she has a message for her missing brother, who has been the center of a nationwide manhunt after the body of his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, was found in Wyoming last month.

“I would tell my brother to just come forward and get us out of this horrible mess,” Cassie Laundrie told ABC News in an interview airing Tuesday on “Good Morning America.”

Brian Laundrie, 23, and Petito, 22, were traveling across the country this summer in Petito’s white 2012 Ford Transit and were documenting their road trip on social media. On Sept. 1, Brian Laundrie returned to his parent’s home in North Port, Florida, by himself in Petito’s van, according to authorities. Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 by her family in Long Island, New York, authorities said.

Cassie Laundrie, who lives in Florida with her husband and two sons, told ABC News that her brother and parents stopped by for a visit the day he returned.

“I really wish he had come to me first that day with the van,” she said, “because I don’t think we’d be here.”

Brian Laundrie was subsequently named a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance. He has refused to speak to investigators and has not been seen since Sept. 14, authorities said.

On Sept. 19, the Teton County Coroner’s Office in Wyoming announced that a body was recovered in the Bridger-Teton National Park. Two days later, the coroner confirmed the remains were that of Petito and that an initial determination showed she had died as a result of homicide. A federal arrest warrant was later issued for Brian Laundrie in Wyoming, pursuant to a federal grand jury indictment related to his “activities” following Petito’s death, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The twist and turns of the case have grabbed national attention, as the search for Brian Laundrie continues.

Cassie Laundrie told ABC News that she becomes worried when she thinks about her brother and where he might be.

“I hope he’s OK,” she said, “and then I’m angry and I don’t know what to think.”

ABC News’ Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

(WATCH BELOW: Gabby Petito disappearance: What you need to know)