Brian Laundrie: The Florida Wilderness Search for Gabby Petito’s Fiance Comes into Week Two

VENICE, FL – Since being informed a week ago by Brian Laundrie’s parents that they had not seen him in days, dozens of local and federal officers have been searching high and low in a Florida swamp nature reserve for the 23-year-old following the disappearance and discovery of the body of his fiancée Gabby Petito in Wyoming.

The search of the Carlton reserve resumed on Saturday, officials said.

Laundrie, who his parents said left their home with his backpack on September 14 and told them he was heading for the reservation, left his cell phone and wallet behind him, CNN told CNN on Thursday. source close to the family. Police were informed of Laundrie’s departure from her parents on September 17, officials said.

Gabby Petito: Chronology of everything we know about his disappearance

Scores of staff have scoured the area this week, using drones and bloodhounds as part of the search, North Port Police Department spokesman Josh Taylor said.

A scuba diving team from the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office that is “called in to search for evidence of crimes and victims of drowning, water accidents and criminal acts” was also brought in mid-week, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We are looking through wooded areas, we are looking through bodies of water, we are looking through swampy areas,” North Point Police Commander Joe Fussell said in a video shared online Friday. “And we are deploying the resources to be able to do that. We have air units, we have drones, we have swamp buggies, airboats, several law enforcement agencies, we have ATVs, we have UTVs. and we have standing officers too. “

Petito, 22, and Laundrie embarked on a trip across the country in June and were visiting national parks. They regularly posted their trips online using the hashtag #VanLife, but those posts came to a screeching halt in late August.

SEE ALSO: Brian Laundrie indicted for bank fraud

Laundrie returned home with her van on September 1. Petito was reported missing on September 11 after her family could not contact her. She was found dead eight days later near a campground in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming.

According to an arrest warrant issued Thursday, Laundrie is wanted for the alleged use of “unauthorized devices” in the period following Petito’s death.

The mandate “doesn’t change anything for us,” Fussell said. “We’re working as hard to find it now as we did on day one.”

Conditions are tough with murky water, muddy roads and thick vegetation, according to videos shared by North Port Police. “Rough is an understatement,” Taylor said Thursday of conditions on the reserve.

He said efforts on Saturday and Sunday would focus on “the most likely areas.”

SEE ALSO: Gabby Petito lived and worked in North Carolina for over a year before moving to Florida

Another person says they hitchhiked Laundrie in August

With law enforcement roaming the reservation, more and more stories of interactions involving Laundrie prior to his return to Florida are emerging.

Norma Jean Jalovec, a seasonal resident of Wyoming, told CNN that she picked up Laundrie not far from the Jackson Lake Dam on Aug. 29, around 6:15 p.m., and drove him to the scattered Spread Creek campground where Gabby Petito’s remains were later found.

Laundrie was hitchhiking, Jalovec said, and sat in the passenger seat of his Toyota 4-Runner SUV.

According to Jalovec, Laundrie told him that he and his fiancée had a travel blog, that she was in their van at the campsite working on the blog, and that he had been walking along the shore of the Snake River for some time. days.

Jalovec said when they arrived at Spread Creek, she dropped Laundrie off at the gate at the entrance to the camping area. She said she had offered to take him further afield once or twice, but he insisted that he be dropped off at the entrance.

The laundromat then offered her money for gasoline, but she refused, she said.

Jalovec said that as soon as she saw a series of videos posted on TikTok by Miranda Baker, who said she picked up Laundrie while hitchhiking and dropped him off at the Jackson Lake Dam, she had called the FBI and shared all the information she had.

Baker had said she dropped Laundrie off near the dam at 6:09 p.m. and Jalovec said she picked him up a few minutes later.

“I’m glad I was able to help with the investigation that placed him at Spread Creek at a specific time on August 29,” Jalovec told CNN.

CNN has not been able to independently verify Baker’s claims. North Port Police confirmed to CNN that Baker spoke with the department before posting the videos to TikTok.

Remember Gabby

Petito’s disappearance and subsequent search for Laundrie sparked a wave of national interest and increased attention to other people missing in the United States.

Since Petito’s discovery, vigils have been held from Salt Lake City to the east coast.

On Friday, residents of Blue Point, New York – Petito’s hometown on Long Island – lit candles at a memorial to show their support for his family.

The organizers of “Light the Night For Gabby Petito” hope similar protests spread beyond Long Island, according to CNN affiliate WABC.

Candles were provided along with a request for a $ 20 donation with the proceeds going to the Petito family, WABC said.

A candle-lighting and butterfly-releasing memorial is scheduled for Saturday night in North Port outside its town hall, according to The Daily Sun.

A Petito memorial visit is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Holbrook on Long Island, according to Moloney’s Holbrook Funeral Home. It will be open to the public.

Richard Stafford, an attorney for Petito’s family, confirmed in a statement Friday that his funeral would take place on Sunday, adding that the family had asked for donations to be made to the future Gabby Petito Foundation in lieu of flowers.

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