Brian Laundrie was under police surveillance when he disappeared, officials say

By Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
AP

The North Port police in Florida were monitoring Brian Laundrie, the fiance of deceased YouTuber Gabby Petito, before he disappeared, officials have said.

Though the police did not speak to Mr Laundrie, they were surveilling the 23-year-old fugitive “as best as they could legally”, said Josh Taylor, the North Port police spokesperson.

Mr Laundrie is a person of interest in the Petito case. The 22-year-old blogger’s remains were discovered on 19 September in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, after a week-long nationwide search. Her death was confirmed as a case of homicide.

According to the police, they never spoke to Mr Laundrie before his disappearance, even though they had their eyes on him. When authorities went to his family’s house on 11 September, he was not seen and “there was no opportunity to speak with him”, the police said.

The police do not have the phones that Mr Laundrie and Petito used while they were on the trip.

Dismissing recent claims about a discovery at the Florida nature reserve, the police said no campsite had been found so far.

“Is it possible that they thought that there might be a campsite out there or something they may have seen from the air but when they got on the ground that’s not what it turned out to be? Sure, I think that’s a possibility. Bottom line is that investigators are telling me that no campsite was found out there,” Mr Taylor told CNN.

Mr Laundrie’s father, Chris Laundrie, also joined the search operation at the reserve on Thursday.

The Laundrie family lawyer, meanwhile, said the absconding man is still alive. “I believe Brian is still in the preserve,” the lawyer told Fox News.

Petito and Mr Laundrie were on a two-month-long cross-country road trip in the US. But only he returned to his family’s North Port home on 1 September. After Petito’s family were unable to contact their daughter for days, she was declared missing on 11 September.

The couple had hit a rough patch along their journey and were seen engaging in an altercation in August. The two had to be physically separated for a night in Utah by the police.

Mr Laundrie has remained non-cooperative throughout the investigation in this case. His family reported him missing on 17 September as they had not heard from him since 14 September, when he went for a hike in the “vast and unforgiving” 24,565-acre Carlton Reserve. Since then, the police have launched a manhunt to locate the absconding person in the alligator-infested nature reserve.


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