Police intensify search for Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito as the missing woman’s boyfriend is thought to have gone into hiding as a Florida swampland and Wyoming camping site become new focal points.
The search comes as Florida authorities are now seeking the whereabouts of the missing woman’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, 23, who seemingly vanished earlier this week, with concerns the now missing boyfriend may also be armed.
The search for Petito led to National Park Rangers and the Teton County Sheriff’s Office closing the Spread Creek campground, which has become the new focus for the search for the missing 21 year old woman. Authorities confirmed the area would remain closed to the public for the next few days.
The Spread Creek site is one of the dispersed camp grounds Petito listed as visiting on her page at thedyrt.com, where she reviewed her journey.
Petito, has been missing since the end of August 24. Her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie returned home to Florida on September 1 and has refused to cooperate with authorities as they sought to determine the 21 year old’s whereabouts after she was reported missing by her family on September 11.
Fears that Laundrie may be armed
Days after Laundrie being named a person of interest, the 23 year old left his parents’ North Point home, also to seemingly vanish. The man’s abrupt disappearance amid heightened concerns for Petito’s well being and whereabouts led to an expansive search for Laundrie along alligator infested, swampy woodland reserve.
Come Saturday, more than 50 law enforcement officers using bloodhounds, drones and 4×4 vehicles searched for Laundrie according to North Port Police information chief Josh Taylor.
Laundrie often visited the Myakkahatchee Creek Environment Park, which is tied to the 25,000 acre Carlton Reserve, the official said according to the dailymail.
And that is where he told his parents he was going when he left their house, added Taylor
Officers do not know if Laundrie is armed.
Park rangers at the Grand Teton National Park, are also actively searching for Petito in the in Wyoming park.
Speaking at the entrance where Laundrie entered the park, Taylor said: ‘We have five, six different agencies who are out there, 50 plus folks.
Vast park area to search
‘We have had drones in the air, we have got bloodhounds, K9s, four by four vehicles. It’s very wet, it’s muddy. There are a few unpaved dirt roads. It’s a place that people hike. There are mountain bike trails out here. The Myakkahatchee Creek runs down into the city.’
Asked if he believed there were concerns for Laundrie’s safety, Taylor said: ‘Sure, I think that’s fair to say. There is an enormous amount of pressure I’m sure on him to provide answers on what’s going on here.’
He could not confirm if Gabby’s boyfriend – who has refused to talk to cops about her disappearance – owns a gun.
Pointing behind him, he added: ‘They started the search in the park area, which is about 200 acres. There is a bridge which crosses over into the Carlton Reserve which is about 25,000 acres. It is believed he entered from here.
‘The initial focus was on the 200 acres here, and then spreading out. The park is closed to the public.’
Asked how long it would take to search the entire 25,000 acres, he replied: ‘You can imagine… a long time.’
Vast remote Wyoming area
Before it become a criminal investigation involving Laundrie ‘we would need official confirmation of a crime,’ the officical added according to the dailymail.
Earlier on Saturday, a Grand Teton Park Ranger told the tabloid, ‘there is a group of park rangers that is searching for Gabby Petito in the backcountry of the park.
‘This is the park’s elite search and rescue unit.
‘I believe there may also be a search going on in a remote area of Yellowstone National Park.’
Authorities believe that Petito’s last known location was in or around the Grand Teton National Park.
The park itself spans more than 310,000 acres and 485 square miles the backcountry consists of several hundred square miles on the west side of the park, it’s a hike- in area only.
Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt told the tabloid that they are confidant she made it to the area but aren’t sure where she may have ended up camping at.
‘Members of search unit at the park can be air lifted to various remote areas for a search,’ added the ranger. ‘They don’t tell us specifics they sort of do what they do.’
Cellular phone service was spotty and the sheer remoteness of the area, one could easily disappear in without a trace. Of disconcert, the area is known for wild animals, including grizzly bears, coyotes, and cougars that roam the area.
‘He’s not missing, he’s hiding!’
It wasn’t until after Laundrie had gone missing for more than 3 days that the man’s family notified authorities that their son had vanished.
In their communication with the FBI, Laundrie’s family conceded being frustrated and and were now willing to speak with investigators in detail amid the search for Petito.
Authorities were seen swarming the missing man’s home over the weekend as they removed items from the family home amid their investigations for the missing pair.
Petito’s mom, Nichole Schmidt reacted angrily to the news of Laundrie having vanished and suggested the man was on the run. The mother’s sentiments follows a fraught week where she had issued several public pleas asking him and his family to cooperate with investigators.
‘He’s not missing, he’s hiding!’ she told the dailymail. ‘Gaby is missing!’
North Port Police and the FBI confirmed they are searching for Laundrie, whose family say they last saw him Tuesday wearing a hiking bag.
‘We understand the community’s frustration, we are frustrated too,’ police said Friday.
‘For six days, the North Port Police Department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian’s Fiancé Gabby Petito.
‘Friday is the first time they have spoken with investigators in detail.’
North Port Police said the department and the FBI are currently working a multiple missing person investigation as the case continues to gravitate heightened public and media scrutiny.