A New Yorker, who has an uncanny resemblance with Brian Laundrie, was reportedly held at gunpoint and questioned by federal investigators after being mistaken by tipsters who thought him to be the wanted fugitive. Severin Beckwith, and his travel companion Anna Brettmann, were talking a nap at a lodge on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina, when officers stormed into their room.
The couple was taken by surprise and was tormented when they woke to see guns pointed at them. Beckwith was then arrested and questioned for hours before police realized that they received a wrong tip. However, the incident has left the two hikers traumatized.
Not Brian Laundrie
Police have been looking for Laundrie for over a month now as a person of interest in Gabby Petito's homicide. However, they have been unsuccessful despite multiple reports of his sightings. Last week, while searching for Laundrie they zeroed in on a Beckwith, who they mistook for Laundrie.
Beckwith and travel companion Brettmann were sleeping when police stormed into their room at Fontana Village Resort. Beckwith said that he first heard a knock on the door and then it flew open. "Next thing I see is a bunch of guys with riot shields with 'US Marshals' written on them, handguns pointed at my face," Beckwith told the New Yorker.
Before he could react, Beckwith was handcuffed, while another officer helped Brettmann get dressed. Beckwith was then taken into the hotel hallway, while investigators responding to alleged Laundrie sightings, worked to confirm his identity.
Beckwith, who resembles Landrie, the sole person of interest in his girlfriend Petito's homicide, said that it didn't take him long to realize why he was being targeted on the Appalachian Trail. First, he resembles Laundrie and second, he was on a hike.
Beckwith claims the federal agents touched the side of his head and claimed he had a "notch in the upper part of my inner ear just like Laundrie." He then realized that he must have been a victim of mistaken identity and tipsters may have had reported seeing him and thought that he was actually the 23-year-old fugitive.
Uncalled for Harassment
However, it was not over for Beckwith. To make matters worse for Beckwith was that he and Brettmann, who had been hiking from Georgia to Virginia since late September, had booked their room with a credit card connected to an Empire State ID and Petito originally hailed from Long Island.
However, it didn't take long for federal agents to realize that he wasn't Laundrie and that they had received incorrect information from a tipster after they couldn't find Laundrie's telltale tattoos on Beckwith. He also produced an ID that ruled him out as the wanted man.
Following the marshals' advice, Beckwith shaved his beard â but he quickly regretted it "because I have much less of a chin than Laundrie does."
Beckwith later said that owing to heavy rain for several days and lack of sleep, he and Brettmann decided to take some rest and checked into the Lodge at Fontana Village Resort, two miles off the trail, in Dam, North Carolina.
"Which, I guess, was good enough motive to come in," Beckwith said, noting that Petito was also from New York.
The big question is who was the tipster? Beckwith believes that an employee at a nearby marina had taken a picture of him and may have had contacted the authorities. Beckwith said he and Brettmann had requested to use the individual's phone in an effort to call a shuttle from the Fontana Lake marina earlier in the day.
This may have raised doubts in the mind of the tipster as Laundrie reportedly left his phone back home when he disappeared on September 17. He recalled that the employee "responded strangely" to his request and, without Beckwith's knowledge, had photographed him.
The U.S. Marshals reportedly presented the photo to him during questioning. "They had a little side-by-side," Beckwith said. "It was Brian and then me on the phone calling to get the shuttle."
Beckwith was later released and given a free night's stay at the lodge for the troubles he had to undergo.