NORTH PORT, Fla. – Brian Laundrie’s attorney Steve Bertolino tore into “America’s Most Wanted” creator John Walsh Thursday, the morning after the longtime TV host aired an ID channel special on the unsolved homicide of the Florida man’s former fiancée, Gabby Petito.
“Gabby Petito: ID Special Report” delved into the details surrounding the 22-year-old Petito’s slaying and Laundrie’s status as a fugitive on a federal bank fraud warrant.
For weeks, Walsh has suggested Laundrie, 23, may have taken advantage of the chaos at the southern border to cross in the opposite direction into Mexico.
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In the special, Walsh speculated that Laundrie might be there, in the Bahamas or hiding out along the Appalachian Trail and alleged his parents may be helping him as he remains on the lam.
“I absolutely believe that his family is helping him stay on the run,” said Walsh, who also hosts “In Pursuit with John Walsh” on ID.
Bertolino snapped back at such speculation.
“Dusty relics like that Dog and John Walsh need a tragic situation like this so they can clear the cobwebs off their names and give their publicity-hungry egos some food,” Bertolino told Fox News Digital, also taking aim at Duane “Dog” Chapman, the reality TV star and real-life bounty hunter who entered the search for Laundrie late last month.
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Through a spokesperson, Walsh said he had no comment on the lawyer’s attack, while Chapman issued a sharp response of his own.
“It’s ironic that Mr. Bertolino would criticize the people trying to find Brian Laundrie, unless perhaps he doesn’t want him to be found,” he said.
Laundrie’s whereabouts have been a mystery since mid-September, when his parents said he set off on a hike in a swampy park near their home in North Port, Fla., leaving his brand new cellphone and wallet behind.
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Two days after police entered his parents’ home, an FBI-led search team found Petito’s remains at a campsite in Bridger-Teton National Forest just north of Jackson, Wyoming.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue later ruled her death a homicide by manual strangulation.
Petito may have last been seen alive in public on Aug. 27 at the Merry Piglets restaurant in Jackson, according to eyewitnesses. That same day, a travel-blogging YouTube couple spotted her van at the campsite near where investigators found her body.
On Aug. 30, while Laundrie is believed to have been driving home from Wyoming, Petito’s mother said she received an odd text message from Gabby’s phone that she said she doesn’t believe her daughter actually wrote.
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Laundrie arrived at his parents’ house alone on Sept. 1, according to authorities, but no one in his family reported Petito missing.