U.S. Marshals allegedly ambushed an innocent man who they mistakenly believed to be fugitive Brian Laundrie, wanted in connection with the Gabby Petito homicide case, The New Yorker reported Saturday.
Severin Beckwith and his partner Anna Brettmann, both from Ithaca, N.Y., were woken up at their North Carolina hotel with a knock on the door and U.S. Marshals bursting in with guns drawn while on a hiking trip from Georgia to Virginia along the Appalachian Trail.
“Next thing I see is a bunch of guys with riot shields with ‘U.S. Marshals’ written on them,” Beckwith told The New Yorker. “Handguns pointed at my face,” he added.
A marshal helped Brettmann get dressed as they handcuffed Beckwith — who sported a shaved head and a beard — while he was still in his underwear, taking him out to the hallway, the report said.
Beckwith said he had a “hunch” why the marshals were interested in him — and he turned out to be right.
Marshals noted that apart from the surface similarities to Laundrie, Beckwith also had “a notch in the upper part of my inner ear just like his.”
He was released after he provided authorities with his ID and proved he doesn’t have Laundrie’s distinctive tattoos.
Marshals reportedly suggested Beckwith shave his beard.
The New Yorker reported it was a hotel employee who raised the alarm after Beckwith asked to use the hotel telephone, reporting him to the authorities.
Last month, the FBI issued an arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie, who was previously named a person of interest in the homicide investigation of his fiancée Gabby Petito. He has been considered missing for several weeks.
The FBI confirmed on Sept. 21 that a body found in Wyoming was that of 22-year-old Petito. Her cause of death was ruled as a homicide, and autopsy results said she died of strangulation. Since the news of Laundrie’s disappearance, there have been numerous sightings of lookalikes reported to authorities by members of the public.