Brian Laundrie manhunt. Is Gabby Petito boyfriend still alive? Did he survive alligator infested swamps? North Point Police to scale back search along Carlton Reserve.
A Florida cattle rancher well versed in the swampland that Gabby Petito boyfriend is thought to have escaped to has cast doubt that the wanted man in her death has been able to survive the alligator-infested nature reserve where authorities have been searching.
The comments came as North Port Police announced that the search for Brian Laundrie would be scaled back in the coming days.
Alan McEwen a long time rancher who lives outside the Carlton Reserve, has spent 30 years exploring the area and said it’s not somewhere humans can easily live.
‘There’s no surviving out here, I don’t know how to say it,’ he told Fox News.
‘I’ve been in the woods in and out all my life… I have learned a lot in my life, and one thing I know is no one is gonna survive out there for two weeks on foot.’
McEwen has been assisting police in the search for 23-year-old Laundrie, who was reported missing by his parents on September 17 – two days after he was declared a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance.
The couple had spent weeks travelling across the country in a van and recording their adventures online before Petito, 22, vanished.
Her remains were found inside a Wyoming national park on September 19 and her death has been ruled a homicide. Laundrie is the prime suspect.
Laundrie’s parents suggested he might have headed to the nature reserve, which he was known to visit and which is about 15 miles from his home.
Many remain distrustful of Laundrie’s parents, who have remained silent and uncooperative as law enforcement investigates the death of their son’s deceased girlfriend.
Whether the avid hiker would have been able to survive in the 25,000-acre swamp-like reserve for weeks continues to be the subject of speculation.
In the nearly two weeks since Laundrie is thought to have entered the reserve, heavy rainfall has flooded the area with waist-deep water.
Could wanted man have died in swamp land?
‘Unless he’s got a butt like a duck and can float, he’s not in there,’ McEwen said.
The rancher noted the dangers posed by alligators, mosquitos and other animals in the reserve, which is home to panthers, black bears, wild boar and lethal snakes.
The terrain is also treacherous, according to McEwen, who said the thick brush makes it easy for even experienced outdoorsmen to accidentally step into a ditch or off a ledge.
However, McEwen believes it’s unlikely Laundrie would have died in the reserve, saying his body would have been found by now.
‘Anything dead you find in the woods, you’re gonna look up, you’re gonna see buzzards flying like crazy,’ he said.
‘No buzzards, no body is my theory. And I haven’t seen any buzzards flying.’
‘He could be anywhere,’
McEwen’s assessment came as Josh Taylor, a spokesman for the North Port Police, announced that the department was to scale back its search for Laundrie.
‘The FBI is now leading the search. I’m told, It will be scaled back and targeted based on intelligence. Hopefully, water will lower in areas hard to currently access,’ he told Fox News.
To add to the unlikelihood that Brian is still in the park, McEwen said it would be easy for someone to enter the preserve and take off in any direction, highlighting different passageways that lead to either a long-stretching highway, vast everglades or acres of ranch land.
‘He could be anywhere,’ McEwen surmised.
On Sunday, FBI agents visited Laundrie’s home and asked his parents for some of their son’s personal items to help with DNA matching, the family’s lawyer told NBC News.
The search for Brian Laundrie continues.