New photos released by North Port Police on September 18 show crews searching for Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the disappearance of 22-year-old Long Island native Gabby Petito.
Officials searched the Carlton Reserve on Saturday after reporting Friday night that the department was unable to make contact with Laundrie. Police said Laundrie’s family believed he had entered the Carlton Reserve area “earlier this week.”
More than 50 crews were on the ground along with ATVs and drones, a police spokesperson told a press conference Saturday morning.
Laundrie and his fiancee Petito were traveling cross-country when he returned home to Florida without her. Petito’s family filed a missing persons report and, in a letter issued through their lawyer, begged the Laundrie family to help find their daughter.
“We understand you are going through a difficult time and your instinct to protect your son is strong,” Petito’s family wrote. “We believe you know the location where Brian left Gabby. We beg you to tell us.”
North Port Police on Friday said they were speaking to the Laundrie Family “at their request” but were not in contact with Brian Laundrie.
A police spokesperson told reporters Saturday that they had tried to speak to Brian Laundrie after he returned home, but that he “wasn’t willing to talk.” He said police then focused their resources on finding Petito, and were expecting to “deal with Brian eventually.” Laundrie’s disappearance, he said, was “certainly a twist.”
The spokesman said police could not arrest Laundrie prior to losing contact with him as they didn’t have a crime to charge him with.
“We’re looking for somebody. That’s it. We can’t just go pulling people in. He certainly has his Fifth Amendment, not to speak,” the spokesman said. “We get it. We’re frustrated,” he added.
Petito was reported missing on September 11. The FBI announced Saturday that they were searching Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the last place she was heard from, while police across the country searched for Laundrie. Credit: North Port Police via Storyful