NORTH PORT, Fla. — The search for Brian Laundrie — the boyfriend of Gabby Petito, and person of interest in her disappearance — was called off Saturday night due to darkness, police said.
What You Need To Know
- Gabby Petito, 22, and Brian Laundrie, 23, left in July for a cross-country trek in a converted van
- Laundrie returned in the van alone to Florida on Sept. 1
- Petito, who was last seen on Aug. 30 in Wyoming, was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11
- Laundrie, a "person of interest" in her disappearance, has also gone missing and was last seen by his family on Sept. 14
- Florida law enforcement spent much of the day Saturday searching for him at the Carlton Reserve area of Sarasota County
North Port police, FBI and other law enforcement had been conducting a search at the Carlton Reserve area of Sarasota County for Laundrie, 23, since early Saturday.
Petito, 22, and Laundrie left in July on a cross-country trek in a converted van to visit national parks in the U.S. West. She was reported missing on Sept. 11 by her family.
Petito was last seen on Aug. 30, in Wyoming.
Investigators said Laundrie returned in the van to his parents’ home in North Port, on Sept. 1. He was then identified as a person of interest in the case.
“It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby's disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime,” North Port police said in a statement Friday.
Investigators said no trace of the missing man had been found Saturday and that the search would resume Sunday.
Our search of the Carlton is being called this evening due to darkness. Nothing found. Efforts will begin again Sunday morning. pic.twitter.com/l7L8B9hHrM— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 18, 2021
North Port police said a grid search was conducted in the area Saturday using vehicles, K-9 units and drones. The reserve was closed during the search.
Police said in a statement that Laundrie's family told officers they haven't seen him since Tuesday, but said they believe he went to the reserve earlier this week.
Police said the conversation Friday evening was the first time they'd spoken with the Laundries in detail about the case, and that the meeting came at the family's request. An attorney for the family called FBI investigators and said they wanted to talk about Laundrie's disappearance, police said.
Additional photos from the search for Brian Laundrie around the Carlton Reserve area. If you have seen him please use 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit online at https://t.co/vlIagGqNPE. pic.twitter.com/X5QZmMJhTq— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 18, 2021
Attorneys for the Petito family released a statement saying that Laundrie was not “missing.”
“All of Gabby's family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing,” the statement from the law office of Richard B. Stafford said.
North Port police detectives spent two and a half hours inside Brian Laundrie's family home Friday night.
Previous stories about Gabrielle Petito search
The home is where Petito also lives, but she went missing after a cross country road trip with him.
Meanwhile, Laundrie's attorney, Steven Bertolino, released a statement after 10 p.m. Friday saying that his client's whereabouts weren't known.
"Be advised that the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie are currently unknown," the statement said. "The FBI is currently at the Laundrie residence removing property to assist in locating Brian. As of now the FBI is looking for both Gabby and Brian. Brian was last seen by his parents on Tuesday morning."
Cell phone video captured an unmarked minivan pull into the Laundrie family driveway a few minutes after 6 p.m.
Three detectives got out of that minivan and entered the home.
About an hour later, two detectives came out of the home and went through a car parked in the driveway before returning. Officers were seen bringing brown evidence bags into the home.
Police say Laundrie was not inside the home Friday night.
The North Port Police chief said the conversation at the Laundrie family home was complete and they'll make a statement after they review the interview.
A lot of protesters and residents showed their support for Gabby outside the home during the police interview.
There was also a candlelight vigil held for gabby Friday night at North Port City Hall. More than 50 people showed up for that vigil.
The case has captured national attention, with both local and national media filling the street Friday.
The case is also drawing out many residents who had bullhorns, signs and stayed Friday until police left.
There was some movement in the search for Petito Saturday, as ground surveys were conducted in Grand Teton National Park as part of the investigation into her disappearance, the FBI office in Denver announced Saturday afternoon.
According to a 2:55 p.m. Twitter post by the FBI office in Denver, agents were joined by personnel from the National Park Service, Teton County Sheriff's Office and Jackson Police Department to search areas of the national park "that are relevant to the investigation into Gabrielle Petito's disappearance."
The office later clarified that the surveys were taking place at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the east boundary of the park. The area has been closed to the public and will remain that way until the investigations are complete, the Denver FBI office said on Twitter.
The Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area is located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park.— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) September 19, 2021
This area is closed to the public and will remain closed until the surveys are complete.
The office did not immediately say why certain areas of the park were being searched or what had changed Saturday to cause them to bring in other agencies to help.
#UPDATE: The #FBI and our partners at the National Park Service, Teton County Sheriff's Office & Jackson Police Department are currently conducting ground surveys in areas of Grand Teton National Park that are relevant to the investigation into Gabrielle Petito's disappearance. pic.twitter.com/QvLmaTKWo8— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) September 18, 2021