(Trends Wide) — The search for Brian Laundrie, whose fiancee Gabby Petito was found dead in Wyoming after the couple embarked on a cross-country road trip for the summer, continues in an inhospitable Florida nature preserve that may soon become easier to navigate. for teams trying to find him, says his family’s lawyer.
“It appears that the water in the reservoir is receding and certain areas are more accessible to search,” said Steve Bertolino, Laundries attorney. “The entire Laundrie family is grateful for the hard work of the dedicated members of law enforcement who have been searching the reserve for Brian for the past few weeks. Hopefully, they will locate Brian soon.”
Agents from various law enforcement agencies have been searching for Laundrie since Sept. 17, when his family told authorities he had left for the nearby Carlton Reserve days earlier.
Laundrie returned to Florida on September 1 without Petito, and after his disappearance was reported, he and his family rejected initial attempts by law enforcement to speak directly to them.
However, police revealed Thursday that Laundrie was being monitored.
North Port Police Department spokesman Josh Taylor told Trends Wide’s Randi Kaye that police were keeping an eye on Brian Laundrie as best they could legally before he disappeared. At the time, Laundrie was not wanted for arrest and Petito was still missing. His remains were discovered on September 19 in Teton County, Wyoming.
Laundrie has not been charged in Petito’s death, although he is subject to a federal arrest warrant for unauthorized use of someone else’s debit card in the days after he last spoke to his family.
Authorities never spoke to Laundrie prior to her disappearance, Trends Wide 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 opportunity to speak to him, Taylor told Trends Wide.
Also, authorities do not have the phones Laundrie and Petito had on their trip, Taylor said. Police searched the truck used on the trip Laundrie drove back to Florida, but none of the phones were there, Taylor said.
Laundrie had bought a new phone shortly after returning home, attorney Bertolino told Trends Wide last week. A source close to the Laundrie family told Trends Wide’s Chris Cuomo that Laundrie left his home without his cell phone and wallet, and Bertolino said the FBI is in possession of the new phone. The FBI declined to comment with Trends Wide, citing its ongoing investigation.
Laundrie’s father helped with the search Thursday
Chris Laundrie, Brian’s father, was seen Thursday morning entering the Carlton Reserve, the vast nature reserve near the family home in North Port. Bertolino said police asked him to accompany them during their search.
“Chris was asked to point out any favorite trails or spots Brian may have used on the preserve,” the attorney said. Although the family provided the information that they knew before, “now it is thought that the assistance in the place can be better,” he said.
“The reservation has been closed to the public, as have the Laundries, but the parents have been cooperating since the search began,” Bertolino said.
“There were no discoveries, but the effort was helpful to everyone,” he said.
Police denied Thursday that a camp on the reservation had been found during previous search efforts. That confirmation came after a source close to the Laundrie family told Trends Wide that investigators informed them that police had made a discovery. The source insisted Thursday that the Laundrie family had been told a camp had been found.
“Is it possible they thought there might be a campground or something they could have seen from the air, but when they hit the ground it wasn’t? Sure, I think it’s a possibility,” North Port’s Taylor said. “The bottom line is that investigators tell me that no camp was found there.”
As the search continues, Chris Laundrie and Brian’s mother Roberta believe he is still on the reservation, Bertolino said, adding that the parents see no reason to make a public call for Laundrie to turn himself in to authorities.
“In summary, the parents believe that Brian was and still is on the reservation, so there was no reason to issue an allegation in the media that he does not have access to,” the attorney said.
Trends Wide’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.