The global interest in Gabby Petito’s death and the subsequent manhunt for Brian Laundrie has delivered some unexpected results.
At least seven bodies have been discovered around the US amid the manhunt for Brian Laundrie.
Authorities nationwide have been on high alert for sightings of Mr Laundrie for nearly five weeks since he was reported missing in Florida just two days before Ms Petito was found dead in the US state of Wyoming.
While Mr Laundrie remains at large, at least four other people have been found dead under suspicious circumstances during that period near areas where police were searching for him or Ms Petito.
An additional two bodies found before Mr Laundrie disappeared were initially probed as potentially being linked to the case because they were discovered near where he was road-tripping with Ms Petito.
The other bodies include a married couple found murdered in Utah, a man who died by suicide in a Wyoming swamp, and remains found during a search for a woman who disappeared in a California desert in June.
Authorities have loosely linked three of the body recoveries to the Laundrie case – including the man who killed himself in Wyoming.
They said that recovery was the result of a spike in tips to police amid the search for Ms Petito.
Investigators in Utah also said they were “not ruling out” a potential link between the Laundrie case and the murder of the married couple in August.
Internet sleuths combing for clues in the Laundrie case questioned the body count in a Reddit thread this week.
One person responding to the Reddit thread noted that finding five bodies over that length of time is not “statistically significant.”
“This is all coincidence,” user Keregi wrote.
“People here are hyper-focused on certain parts of the country right now so they think anything that happens is relevant.”
The latest body that sleuths are linking to the case emerged in Colorado this week.
Sara Bayard, 55, was first reported missing on July 4.
She was last seen at a convenience store in Parker, Colorado, on June 28.
Ms Petito had checked in on Instagram at nearby Monument Rocks on the same day El Paso County Sheriff’s Office received the missing report on Ms Bayard.
Ms Petito and Mr Laundrie also checked in closer to Parker in Colorado Springs on July 8.
Ms Bayard’s cause and manner of death have not yet been released, The Denver Channel reported.
Perhaps the most high-profile body discovery mentioned in the thread came over the weekend as part of the search for Lauren Cho.
Ms Cho, a 30-year-old chef from New Jersey, vanished on June 28 after setting out for a solo walk in California’s Yucca Valley desert.
Authorities announced the discovery of human remains in the Yucca Valley on Saturday, but have not said whether they believe they belong to Ms Cho.
The case gained renewed attention last month when it was compared to Ms Petito’s disappearance.
Critics accused law enforcement of using more resources to search for Ms Petito because she is white, while other missing persons including Ms Cho, who is of Asian descent, got less attention due to their race.
Robert ‘Bob’ Lowrey, 46, vanished on August 20 while visiting Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest, near Grand Teton National Park.
The father-of-two was last seen on the Black Canyon Trail carrying a black duffel and a collapsed tent.
His family had been searching for him for weeks but had no leads.
However, Teton County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Sachse told NBC Dateline this week that it was the recent coverage of Ms Petito’s tragic murder that encouraged members of the public to come forward with tips about Mr Lowrey’s last known movements.
Mr Lowrey’s body was found on August 27 and a coroner confirmed his death was a suicide.
On October 9, authorities announced that human remains were found by the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, where dozens of people claimed to have seen Mr Laundrie in recent weeks.
The cause of death was ruled a homicide.
The FBI was quick to clarify that the recovery had nothing to do with the Laundrie case.
“The body discovered along the Blue Ridge Parkway on Saturday is part of an ongoing investigation,” FBI officials told WSOC9.
“At this time, there is no evidence to connect or any reason to believe it is related to the search for fugitive Brian Laundrie.”
The remains were later identified as Josue Calderon, 33, of Rhode Island, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner
Two of the bodies mentioned in the Reddit thread were found before the Laundrie manhunt began – but investigators have said it’s possible they are linked.
Newlyweds Kylen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Turner, 38, were found shot dead in the La Sal mountain range in Utah on August 18, five days after they were last seen at Woody’s Tavern in Moab on August 13, according to Fox News.
The couple had been married for just four months and lived in a camper van, Fox13 reported.
They had reportedly complained about a man “creeping them out” shortly before they were killed.
Days earlier, officers with the Moab Police Department responded to a call about a fight between Ms Petito and Mr Laundrie.
As the Laundrie case gained more and more attention, police investigating the newlyweds’ deaths said they were “not ruling out” the possibility that the cases were linked.
However, investigators later said they do not believe the cases were connected.
A body was discovered near a bin at a Walmart in Mobile, Alabama, on September 20, sparking rumours that it could be Mr Laundrie.
However, authorities quickly confirmed that the body was not connected to the Laundrie case.
The person who died has not been named publicly but police said he was homeless.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission