Home News Brian Laundrie update: Where does the search stand now?

Brian Laundrie update: Where does the search stand now?

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NORTH PORT, Fla. — The search for fugitive Brian Laundrie has slowed in recent days with no new, public updates on his whereabouts from law enforcement, his attorney or the FBI, which is conducting an ongoing investigation into the homicide of Laundrie’s fiancée, Gabby Petito.

Laundrie, who is wanted on debit card fraud charges, has been on the run for nearly a month, according to his parents, but the case won’t go cold until officials have examined all evidence and exhausted all possible leads regarding his location, which may take months or years.

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Here’s what we know so far about the mystery that has captured the nation’s interest for a month.

Laundrie’s return home without Petito

Laundrie, 23, is a person of interest in the homicide of his 22-year-old fiancée, Gabby Petito. Petito’s parents reported her missing on Sept. 11 — 10 days after Laundrie returned home from Wyoming on Sept. 1 to North Port, Florida, from their cross-country road trip in Petito’s van without her.

According to the Petito family, Laundrie never called them to say that his daughter was not with him. His parents then allegedly ignored phone calls and text messages from the Petito family, including one in which they told the Laundries they were going to call the police. 

Brian Laundrie (Instagram)

Brian Laundrie (Instagram)

When investigators subsequently tried to speak with Brian Laundrie, his parents allegedly “had papers at the door” with instructions for police to contact their attorney, according to Joe Petito, Gabby Petito’s father. 

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The couple began traveling from New York to Oregon in June, driving a 2012 Ford transit van that they converted into a camper. Investigators seized the van on Sept. 11 when Petito’s family reported her missing and later executed a search warrant at the North Port home. 

Petito’s last known locations before death

During the couple’s travels, bodycam footage for police in Moab, Utah, captured the aftermath of a domestic dispute between the pair on Aug. 12, as Fox News Digital first reported. In a 911 call placed at the time, a person can be heard telling a police dispatcher that “the gentleman was slapping the girl,” though Petito tells police in the footage that she struck him “first.”

When Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, reported her missing to Suffolk County Police in New York a month after that incident, she said she last spoke to her daughter at approximately 7 a.m. on Aug. 30. She said Petito was last seen in Grand Teton National Park in Moose, Wyoming, and listed Laundrie as a possible companion. 

She later described to authorities how in one of the most recent text exchanges with her daughter, on Aug. 27, Petito sent her mother an “odd” message in which she wrote, “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls,” according to a search warrant filed in state court in September. The text may have been a reference to her grandfather, but Schmidt said Petito never called him “Stan” and was concerned that something was wrong.

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On Sept. 19, nine days after Petito’s parents filed a missing person report, FBI agents discovered her remains at a dispersed camping area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, where travel blogger Jenn Bethune spotted the couple’s transit van on Aug. 27.

Gabby Petito (Credit: Steve Petito)

Gabby Petito (Credit: Steve Petito)

Teton County coroner Brent Blue ruled Petito’s death a homicide in a preliminary autopsy report, though he has yet to release a final autopsy report with the official cause of death.

Laundrie’s last known locations before disappearance

After Laundrie returned home from traveling on Sept. 1, his mother, Roberta Laundrie, checked into a campground approximately an hour away from their home, on Sept. 6 with the plan to stay until Sept. 8, according to records obtained by Fox News Digital. Prior to that, Roberta Laundrie canceled camping reservations for two people at Fort De Soto Park on Aug. 31. On Sept. 3, she made new reservations for three people at the same park for their Sept. 6 stay, documents obtained by Fox News show.

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Charlene Guthrie, who lives directly across the street from the Laundrie family, previously told Fox News she saw Brian Laundrie mowing the lawn, riding his bike with his mother and going camping with his parents in the days after he arrived alone. Petito had previously been living with the family at their home.

Brian Laundrie's father leaving his house (Fox News)

Brian Laundrie’s father leaving his house (Fox News)

The FBI is now investigating surveillance and trail camera footage from around the park called Fort De Soto during that time, authorities confirmed. The agency also explored the Laundrie’s camper on Aug. 30.

Laundrie’s parents, who lived with both their son and Petito in their North Port home before the young woman’s disappearance, reported Brian Laundrie missing to the North Port Police Department on Sept. 17 — 16 days after he returned home from Wyoming and two days before Petito’s remains were found. The Laundrie family’s attorney, Steve Bertolino, clarified on Sept. 17 that the family hadn’t seen their son since Sept. 14. The family has since changed the date that Brian Laundrie was last seen to Sept. 13. 

The Laundries also told police that the last time they saw Brian Laundrie he was going hiking at the T. Marby Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve in North Port — about a 20-minute drive from their house. The North Port Police Department searched the Carlton Reserve for weeks but did not find any physical evidence of Brian Laundrie’s presence within the area, which is home to some dangerous wildlife, including cougars, alligators and snakes.

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Bertolino previously said Brian Laundrie had purchased a cellphone on Sept. 4 — 10 days before he allegedly disappeared —  and opened an account with AT&T. He added that he did not know what happened to Laundrie’s previous cellphone and Laundrie left his new phone behind at home before his disappearance. The FBI has since seized the phone.

Law enforcement officials conduct a search of the vast Carlton Reserve in the Sarasota, Florida, area for Brian Laundrie on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.  (North Port Police Department via AP)

Law enforcement officials conduct a search of the vast Carlton Reserve in the Sarasota, Florida, area for Brian Laundrie on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.  (North Port Police Department via AP)

Chris Laundrie on Oct. 7 “accompanied members of law enforcement into the Carlton Reserve to show them the trails and places Chris and Brian have hiked and which Brian was known to frequent,” Bertolino said in a statement to Fox News at the time.

Nothing turned up from the search, however, and Brian Laundrie remains on the run. The FBI, which has visited the Laundrie household four times since Sept. 20 to collect information and items for its search, has not released any new information regarding which areas it is searching for the fugitive.

Other details

Laundrie and Petito are both originally from Suffolk County, New York, where they went to high school together, though they did not start dating until after high school. 

The images show Gabby Petito in her sophomore year and Brian Laundrie as a junior at Bayport-Blue Point High School in New York.

The images show Gabby Petito in her sophomore year and Brian Laundrie as a junior at Bayport-Blue Point High School in New York.

A Florida man hiking the Appalachian Trail claimed on Oct. 3 he saw Laundrie driving in a white pickup truck around 12:30 a.m. ET on Saturday in Tennessee near the North Carolina border.

Dennis Davis said it didn’t at first register that the driver may have been Laundrie, but after the encounter, he looked up photos of the fugitive wanted on debit card fraud charges, and he then felt convinced enough to call in the sighting to FBI twice, as well as 911 operators in Tennessee and North Carolina.

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“There is no doubt about it. That was Brian Laundrie I was just talking to. 100%. Not a doubt in my mind,” Davis said of the encounter after he looked up both a portrait and profile shot of Laundrie on his phone.

Davis met with police and the FBI three days later on Oct. 6 to describe the encounter, but there have been no other known sightings in the area.

Fox News’ Stephanie Pones, Michael Ruiz and Paul Best contributed to this report.

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