Plans to have Laundrie’s father join search on hold after remnants of recently-used campsite found at Carlton Reserve

Brian Laundrie. Image: Screen grab from Moab Police Department bodycam video

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida, Oct. 7, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Plans to have Brian Laundrie’s father join the search for his son have been put on hold after a recently-used campsite was found at the Carlton Nature Reserve in Florida.

Officials said Wednesday night they found the remnants of a campsite that appeared to have been recently used at the reserve that has been the focus on efforts to find Laundrie, a source close to the family told CNN.

Earlier Wednesday, law enforcement had asked Laundrie’s father to show them trails that his son was known to have used, but then told him that because of the discovery, they wanted to search the area alone.

Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino told CNN: “Chris Laundrie was asked to assist law enforcement in their search for Brian at the preserve. Since the preserve has been closed to the public Chris has not been able to look for Brian in the only place Chris and Roberta believe Brian may be. Unfortunately North Port police had to postpone Chris’ involvement but Chris and Roberta are hopeful there will be another opportunity to assist.”

Bertolino was asked whether Brian’s parents believe he’s in the reserve or another area. “No, they don’t believe he’s in another area. They believe he is in the preserve,” Bertolino said.

His parents also said that because they believe Laundrie is at the preserve, they do not think he has access to news.

“The parents don’t believe he is watching the news in any way, shape or form,” Bertolino said. “They believe he’s in the preserve or some other type of wilderness area if he has left the preserve. So putting out a plea publicly and getting scrutiny for that is not necessarily in their best interest.”

Bertolino also denied claims from a friend of Gabby Petito’s that Laundrie is a survivalist.

“I don’t know who put the term ‘survivalist’ out there,” he said. “Brian is a hiker. He’s a camper. I don’t think it goes beyond that.”

On Wednesday morning, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office was asked to assist in the search for Laundrie.

Aerial video recorded above the 24,565-acre Carlton Reserve, which has hiking paths and areas of swamp, showed several unmarked law enforcement SUVs heading into the Venice area.

Laundrie, 23, has been named a person of interest in Petito’s murder. The couple, who shared a home with Laundrie’s parents in Florida, had been traveling across the western U.S., including stops in Utah, before Petito’s disappearance near the end of August.

Laundrie returned home on Sept. 1, driving Petito’s van, but without her. Petito, 22, was reported missing on Sept. 11.

Laundrie declined to cooperate with authorities, as did his parents, although on Sept 17 the parents relented and told investigators Laundrie had gone missing on Tuesday, Sept. 14, and may have been headed to the Carlton Reserve.

On Sept. 19, FBI agents found the remains believed to be Petito’s in an area where the couple had been camping in Grand Teton National Park. Two days later, the FBI confirmed the human remains were those of the missing woman, and her manner of death was homicide. The cause of death has not yet been released.

Though authorities have not explicitly connected Laundrie to Petito’s death, they’ve been looking for him, in part over a federal arrest warrant accusing him of illegally using another person’s debit card.

If you have any information in this case or know Laundrie’s whereabouts, you’re asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is made available.


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