(NORTH PORT, Fla.) — A massive search is continuing in southern Florida for Brian Laundrie, the boyfriend of Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old woman who went missing on a cross-country trip and who authorities say is “consistent with the description” of a body discovered on Sunday in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.
The search for the 23-year-old Laundrie is centered around North Port, Florida, where investigators said Laundrie returned to his home on Sept. 1 without Petito but driving her 2012 Ford Transit.
Laundrie has been named by police as a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance. Laundrie has refused to speak to the police and has not been seen since Tuesday, Sept. 14, according to law enforcement officials.
The search for Laundrie is the latest twist in the case that has grabbed national attention as he and Petito had been traveling across the country since June, documenting the trip on social media.
Petito’s parents, who live in Long Island, New York, reported her missing on Sept. 11 after not hearing from her for two weeks.
Here are the latest developments. All times Eastern:
Sep 21, 2:31 pm
Police release video of search for Laundrie in swamp preserve
Police released a YouTube video Tuesday afternoon showing the extensive search going on in the sprawling Carlton Reserve near North Port.
The video showed officers from multiple law enforcement agencies using search dogs, drones and all-terrain vehicles to comb the 25,000-acre preserve.
“The terrain is very difficult. Essentially, 75% of it is under water and other areas that are dry we’re trying to clear,” a North Port police officer said in the video. “We’re expecting to get wet by the end of the day and check the entire area for Brian Laundrie.”
Sep 21, 10:24 am
Search resumes for Laundrie in ‘gator and snake infested’ swamp preserve
Police returned on Tuesday morning to the vast Carlton Reserve near North Port, Florida, to resume their search for Brian Laundrie a day after they said they had “exhausted all avenues in searching the grounds.”
A North Port Police Department spokesman released a statement saying police, FBI, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other law enforcement agencies resumed the search for Laundrie on the Venice, Florida, side of the roughly 25,000-acre preserve.
Laundrie’s parents told police their son said he was going to the preserve on Sept. 14 and that was the last time they heard from him.
Police spent most of Saturday and Sunday searching the preserve, entering from the North Port side. Josh Taylor, the North Port police spokesperson, said on Monday that the initial search of the preserve turned up no clues of Laundrie’s whereabouts there and that bloodhounds and K-9 units did not pick up Laundrie’s scent.
“Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. It is currently waste deep in water in many areas. This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake-infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails,” Taylor said in the statement released on Tuesday.
Sep 21, 9:56 am
Laundrie family lawyer calls off press conference
A press conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon by the Laundrie family and their attorney has been called off.
Steven Bertolino, the family’s lawyer, told ABC News that he canceled the press conference after speaking with the FBI. He did not elaborate on what prompted the cancellation.
The press conference was scheduled to be held at 1 p.m. ET at a hotel in Long Island, New York, near Petito’s hometown of Blue Point.
Sep 20, 6:34 pm
FBI ends search at Laundrie residence
The FBI Tampa office tweeted Monday evening that they ended their search of the Laundrie residence North Port, Florida.
“No further details since this is an ongoing investigation,” the office tweeted.
Sep 20, 5:29 pm
Search warrant last week uncovered hard drive, revealed Petito’s last text
Details of a search warrant executed last week by Florida investigators looking into Gabby Petito’s disappearance were revealed Monday.
This warrant, filed by the North Port Police Department this past Wednesday, wasn’t associated with the FBI activity at the Laundrie family’s North Port home Monday.
Police say that after they searched the 2012 Ford Transit van, crime scene technicians found an external hard drive that they believed “may contain viable digital forensic data that could assist in the location” of Petito, court documents said.
A detective said Petito’s mother received an “odd text” from the 22-year-old, on Aug. 27, — making it likely the last communication from Petito, according to court documents.
The text asked Petito’s mom, “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls,” referring to Petito’s grandfather, who she “never” refers to as Stan, according to her mother.
Sep 20, 4:14 pm
911 caller claimed he saw Brian Laundrie ‘slapping’ Gabby Petito
The Grand County, Utah, Sheriff’s Office released on Monday a 911 recording from August in which a caller claimed he witnessed Brian Laundrie allegedly “slapping” Gabby Petito and chasing her up and down a sidewalk hitting her.
In the recording of the 911 call from Aug. 12, the caller, whose name was not released, claimed he saw an apparent domestic dispute unfold on Main Street in Moab between a young couple driving a white van with Florida license plates.
“We drove by, and the gentleman was slapping the girl,” the caller told a 911 dispatcher. “And then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and drove off.”
Moab Police Department Chief Bret Edge said last week that his officers responded to the incident, located the van and pulled the couple over. Moab police released body camera footage of the traffic stop and wrote in a report that the couple, identified as Laundrie and Petito, admitted to arguing and that Petito had slapped Laundrie.
The couple also stated to police that Laundrie did not hit Petito, according to the report.
After speaking to Petito and Laundrie separately, the police allowed the couple to go on their way. Edge said “insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.”
Sep 20, 1:44 pm
Car Brian Laundrie last used was parked in parents’ driveway: Authorities
A Ford Mustang convertible authorities believe Brian Laundrie used to purportedly drive himself to the Carlton Reserve near North Port, Florida, was parked in the driveway of his family’s home when FBI agents served a search warrant there on Monday.
Laundrie’s parents told authorities he went to the nearly 25,000-acre preserve on Tuesday, which is the last time they claim they saw him, according to the family’s attorney.
Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, told ABC News that the family picked up the car on Thursday morning from the reserve after going out on Wednesday to look for Laundrie.
Laundrie left his family’s home on Tuesday morning with a backpack, Bertolino said. He said that when family members went to the reserve to look for him, they spotted a note left on the car from the North Port Police Department saying it needed to be removed.
Bertolino said the family left the car overnight “so he [Laundrie] could drive back.” When Laundrie didn’t come home Thursday morning, the family went back to retrieve the car, the attorney said.
The family called the police on Friday to file a missing person report, authorities said.
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