Hiker describes 'weird' encounter with man he believes was Brian Laundrie on 'Fox & Friends First'

Hiker claims he saw Brian Laundrie on the Appalachian Trail on Tennessee border near North Carolina

Florida engineer Dennis Davis says that he contacted the local police on Saturday after the encounter occurred

A Florida engineer hiking the Appalachian Trail claims to have spotted Brian Laundrie early Saturday morning during a “weird” encounter near the North Carolina-Tennessee border.

Dennis Davis was making a three-point turn on Waterville Road in Hartford, Tennessee, at approximately 12:35 a.m. ET on Oct. 2 when a man in a white pickup truck flashed his lights and waved his hand. 

With the side of their vehicle by side, the man, who Davis believed to be Laundrie, appeared “messed up” and disheveled. The man told Davis he was lost.

“And I said, ‘Well, I’m not from around here. Where are you trying to go?’” Davis described to hosts Jillian Mele and Todd Piro on “Fox & Friends First.”

The man told Davis that he was attempting to go to California, which struck Davis as odd.

“And then he said, ‘My girlfriend and I got into a fight, but she called me and told me that she loved me — and I’ve got to get to California to see her.'”

Davis gave the man directions to highway I-40, but the man refuted his guidance. 

“No, I’m gonna keep driving down this road,” Davis claims the man said to him. “I think it goes to California.” 

Davis, who was originally intending on sleeping in the parking lot nearby until morning, said “there was no way” he would stay there overnight after the encounter. 

He quickly jumped on the highway and was driving west when it dawned on him that the man could have been Laundrie. He pulled over on the next exit and looked up pictures of Laundrie on his phone.

“The very first picture I pulled up was that portrait view of him with that black beard and mustache,” Davis said. “And right at that minute, I said this is absolutely him.”

That morning Davis said he made two calls to the FBI, one call to Tennessee 911 and one call to North Carolina 911. 

The Haywood County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office said on their dispatch that they received a call from Davis after 2 a.m. Saturday near the Waterville exit and sent out a few officers to check out the area. Deputies came across three idle vehicles, which they ran, but all came up inconsequential and were likely hikers’ vehicles.

Laundrie and his girlfriend Gabby Petito were traveling across the country in a Ford Transit van over the summer before Laundrie returned to his home in North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1 in the van without Petito. Petito’s parents reported her missing 10 days later on Sept. 11. Laundrie’s parents reported Laundrie missing on Sept. 17 but said the last time they saw him was on Sept. 14.

After Petito’s missing persons’ report was filed on Sept. 11, Laundrie would not cooperate with the police investigation, officials said. The Laundries’ attorney released a statement on Sept. 14, in which he announced he had advised his clients to remain “in the background.” The family revealed three days later that they had not seen him since Sept. 14.

Fox News’ Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.

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