The search for Brian Laundrie is still ongoing, as reports have emerged detailing new developments in the case of the homicide of Gabrielle Petito.
A federal arrest warrant for Laundrie was issued on Thursday following the discovery of Petito’s remains on Sunday. However, the warrant is not related to her death; it was issued after a grand jury indicted him for “use of unauthorized devices.”
Laundrie used a debit card and PIN number for accounts that did not belong to him for charges totaling more than $1,000 between the dates of August 30 and September 1, according to the indictment.
Steve Bertolino, an attorney representing Laundrie’s family, released a statement explaining the warrant. He wrote:
It is my understanding that the arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie is related to activities occurring after the death of Gabby Petito and not related to her actual demise.
He also pointed out that the authorities are “focusing on locating Brian and when that occurs the specifics of the charges covered under the indictment will be addressed in the proper forum.”
Michael Schneider, FBI Special Agent in Charge, said:
“While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide. We urge individuals with knowledge of Mr. Laundrie’s role in this matter or his current whereabouts to contact the FBI.”
Local and federal officials resumed the search for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve on Friday. It is a 25,000-acre nature preserve located close to his parents’ Florida home. On Sept. 17, Laundrie left his parents’ home with a backpack, telling them he was headed to the reserve.
Steven Claytor, a survival instructor with North Florida Survival, told ABC7 that it would be unlikely that a person could hide out in the preserve for a long time. He explained that the heat and humidity would make it difficult for a person to survive without the right equipment. He said:
“He’s going to have to have a lot of stuff to be able to stay out in a humid, hot swampy wet area and be able to maintain that for awhile.”
Another survival expert told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that “if he’s down there in the Carlton Reserve, he’s living in hell.”
Another report suggested it is possible that Laundrie lied to his family about going to the preserve. Chris Boyer, executive director of the National Association for Search and Rescue, told Insider:
“People that are trying not to get caught for something sometimes use people, right? So he may have told his parents that’s where he’s going.”
He also noted that Laundrie’s parents might be telling the authorities that he went to the preserve “in all honesty,” but were deceived by their son.
A source close to the family told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that Laundrie left his cell phone and wallet behind on the last day they saw him. His parents were worried that he planned to harm himself.
Other reports revealed further evidence that tensions between Laundrie and Petito were intensifying. The details of an incident in which things became physical between the two surfaced earlier this week. The police report explains how the altercation arose.
“A couple from Louisiana vacationing in Jackson, Wyoming, says they saw an incident last month in a restaurant involving Petito and Laundrie,” according to CNN.
Nina Angelo and her boyfriend, Matt England, saw a “commotion” as Petito and Laundrie were leaving The Merry Piglets Tex-Mex restaurant, Angelo told CNN on Wednesday.
Petito was in tears and Laundrie was visibly angry, going into and out of the restaurant several times and continuing to show anger toward the staff around the hostess stand, Angelo said. The couples’ waitress was also visibly shaken by the incident, according to Angelo, who told CNN she did not see any violence or physical altercation between Petito and Laundrie.
Laundrie is still not officially considered a suspect in the death of Gabrielle Petito, but he is a person of interest. He is still at large, but at this point, the general consensus seems to be that he will not be missing for much longer.