Police continue to search Florida wildlife reserve for Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito’s fiancé

FBI, NPS also conducted ground surveys at Grand Teton National Park for missing woman

NORTH PORT, Fla. – The search for Gabby Petito’s fiancé, who is a person of interest in her disappearance, at a Florida wildlife reserve continued Sunday after his family told investigators they believe he went into the area earlier this week, according to the North Port Police Department.

The police department announced the search at Carlton Reserve, a nearly 25,000-acre park in Sarasota County, Saturday joined by the FBI and other agency partners. On Sunday, police said a team of more than 50 were out at the reserve to continue looking for Brian Laundrie, 23.

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Across the country, the FBI in Denver said it was conducting ground surveys with help from the National Park Service at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, which is where her last known contact with her family came from.

Petito, 22, was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11 after losing contact with her while she was on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie. He was later named a person of interest in her disappearance. The pair had been documenting their road trip on social media, including on a YouTube channel with a single video uploaded on Aug. 19. Police said the van the two were traveling in was found at her home on Sept. 11, but she was not with the vehicle. According to the department, the home is shared with her boyfriend and his parents.

Laundrie’s family told investigators Friday his whereabouts were unknown and they have not seen him since Tuesday.

“It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime. We are not currently working a crime investigation. We are now working a multiple missing person investigations,” the department wrote on Facebook.

According to the Associated Press, police spokesman Josh Taylor said Laundrie could survive out in the reserve for some time depending on his survival skills. Taylor also said his family members told investigators he took his car and went to the reserve with only a backpack, but the vehicle was found at his family’s home.

Attorneys for the Petito family released a statement saying Laundrie was not “missing.”

“All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing,” the statement from the law office of Richard B. Stafford said.

Petito is described as being 5 feet and 5 inches tall and weighing 110 pounds. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and several tattoos, including one on her forearm that reads “let it be.”

Anyone who would like to submit a tip or has seen the camper van pictured above is asked to call the FBI’s national hotline at 1-800-225-5324.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.