Dozens of FBI agents and police officers are searching a wooded preserve area in Florida in hopes of finding the boyfriend of a missing New York woman who is a person of interest in the case as protestors gathered outside his home.
Early Sunday, Sept. 19, police officers in the City of North Port in Sarasota County said they were at the Carlton Reserve on the West Coast of Florida in hopes of finding the 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, who was the last person seen with missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito of the hamlet of Blue Point, in Suffolk County.
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"A team of more than 50 looking for anything of note after his parents say this is where he went," the department said Sunday. "We continue to corroborate all info in the search for him and Gabby."
ATVs, drones, and blood-sniffing dogs were all at the scene of the large preserve his family said he went to on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
City of North Port Public Information Officer Josh Taylor said that Laundrie’s parents talked with detectives about the whereabouts of their son, not about the disappearance of his girlfriend Gabby.
The couple left Long Island in early July for a cross-country trip in her 2012 Ford Transit van.
Petito, who was last known to be in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in late August, was reported missing to Suffolk County Police on Saturday, Sept. 11, by her mother after last being heard from on Monday, Aug. 30.
Laundrie returned home to Florida North Port in Petito's van on Wednesday, Sept. 1, without Gabby.
He has refused to speak with the police or the FBI about her whereabouts since returning.
Laundrie's disappearance is the latest twist in a case that's garnered national attention and drawn headlines around the world after Petito went missing.
An officer was seen leaving Laundrie’s home with a paper grocery bag Friday, Sept. 17 night, which Taylor told reporters contained Laundrie’s clothes to be used by the scent-sniffing dogs.
Taylor reiterated that Laundrie remains a person of interest in Petito's disappearance, but the massive search effort was aimed at finding a missing person who may be in danger, he said.
"We don't have a crime," Taylor said. "We have a missing person's case."
In the meantime, Gabby's parents, who said they can't sleep or eat, or even think, are begging Laundrie and his family to tell law enforcement where he last Gabby and where she may be.
In a statement made through their attorney, the family said: "As a parent how could you let us go through this pain and not help us?"
Many seem to agree with protestors screaming out front of the Laundrie's home, "Where's Gabby?"
Police have allowed the crowd to assemble but did move them off the family's lawn and onto a sidewalk.
On Saturday, Sept. 18, word circulated that a body had been found during the search, but police quickly said the information was untrue.
North Port Police posted a missing person statement for Laundrie late Friday, Sept. 17, saying he was last seen wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap.
Petito is approximately 5-foot-5 and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads "let it be."
Anyone with information surrounding this case should contact 1-800-CALL-FBI.
This continues to be a developing story. Check back to Daily Voice for updates.
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