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The Chronicle

Brian Laundrie: Private investigator weighs in on man’s location

Following the discovery of what is believed to be the body of Gabby Petito, all eyes are now on locating her missing fiance Brian Laundrie.

Gabby Petito and her missing partner, Brian Laundrie. Picture: Instagram

It’s been a week since Florida man Brian Laundrie was last seen by his parents at their home in North Port, Florida.

The 22-year-old returned home alone on September 1 after departing in June on a cross-country road trip with his fiance, Gabby Petito.

Initially, all eyes were focused on finding Ms Petito, who had been reported missing by her mother, Nichole Schmidt, after she failed to return to Florida with Mr Laundrie, 23.

Mr Laundrie was declared missing by his parents days before a body was discovered in the search for miss Petito. His parents, Roberta and Chris, hired lawyer Steven Bertolino to represent the family, and he has been the mouthpiece ever since Ms Petito’s disappearance became an active missing person investigation.

“This is an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family,” Mr Bortelino said on September 14.

“I understand that a search has been organised for Miss Petito in or near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

“On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family.

“On the advice of counsel the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”

After police arrived at the family’s home on September 17, officers were told that Laundrie hadn’t been seen since Tuesday after driving to Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County, Florida, to go for a hike.

Mr and Mrs Laundrie said their son left with a backpack and told them he was going to the 25,000 acre reserve but never returned.

In response, more than 50 police officers accompanied by FBI agents, drones, K-9 and bloodhounds started to search for Mr Laundrie in the nature preserve on Saturday morning, but the search was called off by nightfall.

Resuming again on Sunday, the search for Mr Laundrie was called off again just hours before the Teton County coroner in Wyoming confirmed that a body was recovered in the Bridger-Teton National Park – believed to be Ms Petito.

The North Port Police Department, who conducted the manhunt at the preserve, told Fox News on Monday that it “currently has no plans to conduct a major search of the Carlton Reserve” any further. On Monday local time, the FBI shifted their sights on the Laundries’ home in North Port, Florida, after Petito’s fiance remained a person of interest.

“The FBI is executing a court-authorised search warrant today at the Laundrie residence in North Port, Florida relevant to the Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito investigation,” the FBI’s Tampa office tweeted on Monday.

“At this time, we currently believe we have exhausted all avenues in searching of the grounds there,” North Port Police Public Information Officer Josh Taylor said, adding the department had “exhausted all avenues” in the search at the preserve.

“Law enforcement agencies continue to search for Brian Laundrie.”

But could the search at the sprawling nature preserve be at a complete loss?

In an interview with Insider, private investigator Harvey Morse from Florida’s Locaters International, said it would have been relatively easy for Laundrie to evade detection at an airport given he has not been charged with a crime — and masks are mandatory.

Mr Morse, who has more than 50 years experience as a detective, said the current climate whereby masks must be worn in public, can make identification for missing persons challenging.

“It would be easy for him to get on a plane,” he said.

Mr Morse said police would be considering two separate scenarios regarding Mr Laundrie’s location.

The first is that he is in hiding, potentially overseas, and secondly that he will — or already has — attempted suicide.

The private detective said the chances of Mr Laundrie attempting suicide were “above average”, given the large amount of media coverage the case has received — a theory that’s also been shared by North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor.

“As far as hurting himself in there (Carlton Reserve), we don’t know that one way or another. I think it’s a possibility certainly,” Mr Taylor told the New York Post.

“Does anyone not think it’s possible he went out there and shot himself in the head? Sure,”

Mr Taylor said, adding, “We don’t have any information about where he’s at.”

Mr Morse said the best outcome would be for Laundrie to turn himself in.

“I hope that this person is found and, if he is the perpetrator, he pleads guilty and doesn’t draw this case out, which would cause so much pain for so many people,” he said.

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