Brian Laundrie’s father joins the search for his son in Florida reserve

The father of Brian Laundrie joined search teams in Florida’s Carlton Reserve to look for his son, the attorney representing Laundrie’s family said Thursday. Chris Laundrie pointed out potential trails his son may have used as law enforcement continues the statewide manhunt for Brian, whose fiancée, Gabby Petitio, was found dead last month.

“Although Chris and Roberta Laundrie provided this information verbally three weeks ago it is now thought that on-site assistance may be better,” attorney Steven Bertolini told CBS News on Thursday. “The preserve has been closed to the public and the Laundries as well but the parents have been cooperating since the search began.”

Brian, 23, has been missing for several weeks. On September 18, Laundrie’s parents told authorities they had last seen their son several days prior and had no idea of his whereabouts. He had previously refused to speak with police after returning home from a cross-country trip on September 1 without Petito, his 22-year-old fiancée. 

Petito last video chatted with her mother on August 23 or 24 and was last seen on August 27. On September 11, Petito’s parents reported her missing, and Laundrie, who had been named a person of interest in the case, refused to speak to police. 

Petito’s body was discovered in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 19. Two days later, the Teton County Coroner confirmed the body was Petito’s and said the apparent cause of death was homicide.

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie Gabby Petito/Instagram

Now, both state and federal agencies are focusing their search for Laundrie on several wooded areas in the Carlton Reserve. On September 23, the FBI issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie after he “knowingly and with intent to defraud” used a bank card that was later revealed to be Petito’s. 

A close friend of Petito’s told CBS News that Laundrie is an expert in hiking and camping. 

“He’s good with nature. He can go into nature,” Rose Davis said. “So, my first thought was he’s — he’s in the woods. He’s somewhere in the woods.”

Petito’s parents have urged Laundrie to turn himself into police, faulting his family for their failure to cooperate earlier in the investigation. 

“The Laundries did not help us find Gabby, they’re sure as not going to help us find Brian,” Petito family attorney Richard Stafford said on September 28. “For Brian, we’re asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement organization.”

On Wednesday, Bertolini also confirmed that Laundrie flew home to see his parents on August 17 and returned to Utah on August 23, four days before Petito was last seen. The couple was considering extending their road trip, Bertolini said