Duane Chapman, who you probably know as Dog the Bounty Hunter, has added an extra degree of publicity to an already riveting case by getting involved in the hunt for Brian Laundrie, who has been missing since days before his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was found dead at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, where the two had traveled together in August.
Chapman, since joining the hunt for Laundrie, has added plenty of his own commentary to the wide array of speculation and conspiracy theories about where Laundrie might be and what actually happened to Petito, whose death was ruled a homicide.
On Tuesday, the Teton County coroner’s office announced that Petito died of strangulation. The #vanlife blogger, who had a strong social media following for whom she documented her travels with Laundrie, was reported missing by her family several days after Laundrie returned to the Florida home the couple shared with his parents in Florida.
Last week, Chapman told The U.S. Sun that Laundrie, an avid outdoorsman who many believe is hiding out in the wilderness of Florida or North Carolina, had a very dark side and may have even been a serial killer based on his penchant for violent and gory books and films.
“I’m thinking more and more about him being maybe a serial killer, not just a killer of Gabby. The books he read are unbelievable,” the former reality star told the tabloid.
Chapman explained that as a Christian, he used to get mad at his kids for reading Dungeons and Dragons stories, but that what Laundrie was reportedly into is far worse.
“A couple of the books that he’s been reading are 10 times worse than Dungeon and Dragons. This kid, Brian has taken those books, obviously to heart,” he said, although Laundrie remains a person of interest in Petito’s death and has not been charged. He is wanted for allegedly using someone’s bank card illegally on his return trip to Florida without her.
“And this is what happens when your kid is looking at those kinds of things,” Chapman continued. “He just overnight just didn’t become a killer. A killer is made, and he is built to be or she, a killer.
“He built himself to be that by looking at that kind of, let’s say the dark side stuff. There are pictures of demons all over it.”
Internet sleuths, who have been hard at work since Petito was first reported missing on Sept. 11 and all the more so once Laundrie subsequently disappeared on Sep. 17, have noticed the missing man’s attraction to the dark side.
Laundrie himself wrote on Instagram about how he and Petitio read the 2002 Chuck Palahniuk novel “Lullaby,” in which a journalist unwittingly memorizes a “culling song” that has the power to kill those who irritate or annoy him.
The young man even explained at length the degree to which the novel’s language impacted him, pontificating in the post that, “Reading is different than any other consumption of media, it takes more effort than staring at a screen half alive, it allows you to use your brain rather than melt it, and there is no author more stimulation to me than Chuck Palahniuk.”
Palahniuk was a favorite of Laundrie’s, and his Instagram features posts about and artwork from the novel and film adaptation of “Fight Club” as well, along with art fitting to the name he chose for himself on the social media network, @Bizarre_Designs.
One drawing he posted that captured the attention of netizens was a man with a wolf face holding a bloody knife. Another depicted a herd of sheep being overseen by creepy figures wielding scythes that was captioned, “Grim Reaper leading sheep to the slaughter.”
Now, Laundrie’s book preferences and art style are by no means irrefutable evidence that killed his fiancée — again, he has also not yet been accused of killing her by law enforcement. We simply can’t go accusing every young post-millennial man of being a murderous domestic abuser or depraved serial killer just because he has picked up a Palahniuk novel or dabbled in bloody artwork.
But there is absolutely no denying that consuming books, television shows, movies and music that glorifies the macabre, gory and violent most certainly has an effect on a person and, as I firmly believe, a deeply spiritual one at that, which in no way promotes healthy relationships with our fellow human beings.
The psalmist wrote that he would “set no wicked thing before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3), or that he would not “look at anything vile and vulgar” as the New Living Translation has it. This is a sound spiritual practice worth emulating.
Like the food we eat, the images and ideas we consume can contribute to spiritual health or lack thereof, and there is certainly nothing healthy about glorifying the destruction of human life, which inevitably devalues it.
It’s a stretch at best to conclude that Laundrie was a serial killer because he was into gory books. However, we do know that not only did he and Petito argue so violently not long before her death that someone called the police on them, but that the last time the ill-fated Petito was seen alive, Laundrie had reportedly been lashing out at the unwitting employees at a Tex-Mex restaurant in Wyoming.
He may not have been a serial killer, he may not even have been Gabby’s killer (although there’s no point denying that we all generally believe he was) but it is certainly safe to say that Laundrie was likely struggling emotionally, and the media he consumed certainly can’t have helped whatever it was that was causing discord in his closest relationship.
At the very least, all of this certainly doesn’t abate suspicions that he killed Petito and is now on the run from the law over what he’s done.
Pray that Laundrie is found quickly — and that Petito’s family can have the closure they so desperately need.
And whatever you may think about Laundrie, pray that he repents of whatever wickedness is reigning in his heart, since whatever he’s done, he’ll have to answer for it as well as any other evil he has embraced in his life.