Holbrook, New York (Trends Wide) – As authorities continue their second week of searching across thousands of acres of wetlands in search of Gabby Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie, they are also looking for new evidence in the investigation.
FBI agents returned Sunday to the Florida home Laundrie shared with his parents, as seen in a Trends Wide video. At least two officers could be seen in the house and one had a bag in hand.
During the home visit, “the FBI requested some personal items belonging to Brian Laundrie to help them with the DNA match and Brian’s parents provided the FBI with what they could,” Laundries attorney Steven Bertolino told multiple chains of news.
Trends Wide sought out Bertolino but has not received a response.
Laundrie’s parents told authorities on September 17 that the 23-year-old left their home days earlier with his backpack and said he was heading to the Carlton Reserve. A source close to the family told Trends Wide’s Chris Cuomo that Laundrie left his parents’ home without his cell phone or wallet.
Teams have been touring the “vast and unforgiving” Carlton Reservation – some 10,000 hectares of swamps that are home to alligators and snakes – ever since. Drones, dive teams and bloodhounds have joined the search effort, according to the North Port Police Department.
Laundrie’s disappearance came at the height of the search for Petito. The two had gone on a trip together, but Laundrie returned to the home they shared with her parents on September 1 without her. Later, authorities found Petito’s remains in a national forest in Wyoming, and his death was ruled a homicide.
Petito’s disappearance has caused anguish and outrage in many people, but it also highlights the tens of thousands of stories of missing persons that do not arouse such intense interest; there were nearly 90,000 active missing persons cases at the end of 2020, according to the National Crime Information Center.
Laundrie faces a federal arrest warrant for “unauthorized device use” as a result of his actions following Petito’s death. Laundrie allegedly used a debit card and PIN for non-owned accounts for charges exceeding $ 1,000 between the dates of Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, according to a federal indictment.
An attorney for Laundrie’s family emphasized in a statement that the arrest warrant was not for Petito’s death but related to activities that allegedly took place afterward.
Two separate awards totaling $ 30,000 have been offered to anyone who provides law enforcement officers with information about Laundrie’s whereabouts.
What we know about Laundrie’s movements
Petito, 22, and Laundrie embarked on a trip across the United States in June and were visiting national parks. They posted online regularly about their travels with the hashtag #VanLife, but those posts came to an abrupt halt in late August.
On August 26, Jessica Schultz spotted Laundrie in a parked white van in Grand Teton National Park, and no one appeared to be with him, she told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The next day, Nina Angelo and her boyfriend, Matt England, said they witnessed a “commotion” as Petito and Laundrie left the Merry Piglets Tex-Mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming, Angelo told Trends Wide.
Petito was crying and Laundrie was visibly upset, going in and out of the restaurant multiple times, showing anger towards the staff around the restaurant hostess booth, Angelo said. The waitress who served the couple was also visibly shocked by the incident, said Angelo, who told Trends Wide that he saw no violence or physical altercation between Petito and Laundrie.
A Merry Piglets manager, who declined to give his name, saw “an incident” at the restaurant and called the FBI, he told Trends Wide. The manager declined to describe what happened and said the restaurant had no surveillance video of the incident.
Norma Jean Jalovec, a seasonal Wyoming resident, told Trends Wide that she picked up Laundrie not far from Jackson Lake Dam on August 29, around 6:15 p.m., and drove him to Spread Creek campground where he was later They found Petito’s remains.
Laundrie was hitchhiking, Jalovec said, and sat in the passenger seat of his Toyota 4-Runner SUV.
According to Jalovec, Laundrie told him that he and his fiancee had a travel blog, that she was in her truck in the camping area working on the blog, and that he had been walking the Snake River embankment for a few days.
A neighbor who lives directly across the street from the home Petito shared with Laundrie and his family told Trends Wide that the last time she saw Laundrie at the North Port home was the weekend of September 10.
Karyn Aberts said she saw Laundrie and her family “in the neighborhood in the front yard,” and that it looked “normal … they were going for a walk,” and that she “never thought anything about it.”
Petito was reported missing by her family the next day.
‘To love and give love like her’
As investigators continued their search for Laundrie, friends, family and strangers gathered Sunday in Holbrook, New York, to pay their respects to Petito.
Joseph Petito described his daughter in a eulogy as a “happy girl”, who made people gravitate around her. He made others feel welcome, he said, and he loved being outdoors, snorkeling, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or snowboarding on Colorado’s sand dunes.
“I want Gabby to inspire them, that’s what we’re looking for,” said Joseph Petito. “If there is a trip you want to do, do it now. Do it now while you have time.
“If there is a relationship you are in, it may not be in your best interest, leave it now,” she said, in an apparent reference to her daughter’s relationship with Laundrie.
Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt, also delivered a eulogy, telling those gathered: “Parents are not supposed to bury their children. This is not how this is supposed to work.”
Petito is “an example for all of us to live,” said Schmidt, “to enjoy every moment in this beautiful world, as she did: to love and give love to everyone as she did.”
Alison Kosik and Sarah Jorgensen reported from Holbrook, New York, while Madeline Holcombe reported and wrote this story in Atlanta. Trends Wide’s Dakin Andone, Travis Caldwell, Leyla Santiago, Sara Weisfeldt, Christina Maxouris, Taylor Romine, and Laura Ly contributed to this report.