Brian Laundrie: Search conditions can be improved in some areas, says family lawyer

“It seems that the water in the reserve is declining and certain areas are more accessible for search,” Steve Bertolino said. “The entire Laundrie family is grateful for the hard work of the committed members of law enforcement who have been looking for Brian over the past few weeks. Hopefully Brian will be found soon.”

Officers from several law enforcement agencies have been searching for Laundrie since Sept. 17, when his family told authorities he left days earlier for the nearby Carlton Reserve.

Laundrie returned to Florida on September 1 without Petito, and after her disappearance was reported, he and his family rejected the first attempts at law enforcement to speak directly with them.

However, police revealed on Thursday that Laundrie was being monitored.

North Port Police Department spokesman Josh Taylor told CNN’s Randi Kaye that police are monitoring Brian Laundrie as best they could legally before he disappeared. At the time, Laundrie was not wanted for arrest, and Petito was still missing. Her remains were discovered Sept. 19 in Teton County, Wyoming.
Laundrie has not been charged with Petito’s death, although he is the subject of a federal arrest warrant for unauthorized use of another person’s debit card in the days after she last spoke to her family.
Brian Laundrie was under surveillance before disappearing, police said

Authorities never spoke to Laundrie before he disappeared, CNN has learned. When police were at the family’s home on Sept. 11, the day Petito was reported missing, Laundrie was not seen and there was no way to speak to him, Taylor told CNN.

In addition, authorities do not have in their possession the phones that Laundrie and Petito had on their trip, Taylor said. Police searched the van used on the trip that Laundrie was driving back to Florida, but no phone was there, Taylor said.

Laundrie had bought a new phone shortly after returning home, attorney Bertolino told CNN last week. A source close to the Laundrie family told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that Laundrie left their home without his cell phone and wallet, and Bertolino said the FBI is in possession of the new phone. The FBI declined to comment on CNN, citing its ongoing investigation.

Laundrie’s father assisted with the search Thursday

Chris Laundrie, Brian’s father, was seen Thursday morning in the Carlton Reserve, the large nature reserve near the family home in North Port. Bertolino said he was asked by police to accompany them with their search.

“Chris was asked to point out any favorite trails or places that Brian may have used in the nature reserve,” the lawyer said. Although the family provided the information they knew in the past, “it is now believed that on-site assistance may be better,” he said.

“Preservation has also been closed to the public and the laundries, but the parents have been cooperating since the search began,” Bertolino said.

“There were no discoveries, but the effort was useful to everyone,” he said.

Here's what we know about Laundrie's disappearance

Police denied on Thursday that a campsite had been found in the reserve during previous search efforts. This confirmation came after a source close to the Laundrie family told CNN that they were informed by investigators that police had found a discovery. The source insisted Thursday that the Laundrie family had been told a campsite had been found.

“Is it possible that they thought there might be a campsite out there or something they might have seen from the air, but when they got on the ground, that was not what it turned out to be. Yes, I think It’s a possibility, “said North Port’s Taylor. “The bottom line is that investigators are telling me no campsite was found out there.”

While the search continues, Chris Laundrie and Brian’s mother Roberta believe he is still in the reserve, Bertolino said, adding that the parents see no reason to issue a public call to Laundrie to surrender to authorities.

“In short, the parents believe Brian was and still is in custody, so there was no reason to make a plea to media to which he has no access,” the lawyer said.

The family hopes Gabby’s life will inspire others

Petito’s body was discovered in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming less than two weeks after she was reported missing, dampening the community’s hope that she would be found alive.
As authorities focused on the Carlton Reserve looking for Laundrie, a vigil was held in her honor from Salt Lake City to Wilmington, North Carolina, where a memorial was erected at a restaurant she used to work at, according to CNN-affiliated WWAY.
People near and far deliver flowers to the Laundrie home in Gabby Petito's memory

The loss of Petito was especially felt in North Port when tributes were held in front of the city hall in Florida and on Long Island, where she grew up.

Her father, Joe Petito, described Gabby at my New York memorial service as a “happy girl” who loved the outdoors and made others feel welcome.

“I want you to be inspired by Gabby, that’s what we’re looking for,” he said. “If there is a trip you want to take, take it now. Do it now while you have time.

“If there is a relationship that you are in and that may not be the best for you, leave it now,” he added.

Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt, also gave a eulogy, telling the congregation: “Parents must not bury their children. That’s not how it should work.”

In an interview on the show “Dr. Phil” this week with other members of her family, Joe Petito said he believes Laundrie is alive and hiding.

“Because he’s a coward. Flat out. I would use some other words, but I can not use them on your show,” Petito said.

CNN’s Randi Kaye, Susan Chun, Anne Clifford, Chris Cuomo, Jon Passantino, Leyla Santiago, Sara Weisfeldt, Rebekah Riess, Eric Levenson, Taylor Romine, Rob Frehse, and Whitney Wild contributed to this report.

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