The search for Brian Laundrie in a swampy Florida nature reserve enters its second week

The search for Brian Laundrie in a swampy Florida nature reserve enters its second week

Posted: Sep 25, 2021 5:41 PM
Updated: Sep 25, 2021 5:41 PM

Since being informed a week ago by Brian Laundrie's parents that they had not seen him for days, dozens of local and federal officers have searched high and low in a swampy Florida nature reserve for the 23-year-old following the disappearance and then the discovery of the body of his fiancée Gabby Petito in Wyoming.

The search of the Carlton Reserve will resume Saturday, officials said.

Laundrie, who his parents say departed their home with his backpack on September 14 and told them he was headed to reserve, left his cell phone and wallet behind, a source close to the family told CNN on Thursday. The police were told of Laundrie's departure by his parents on September 17, officials said.

A multitude of personnel scoured the area this week, using drones and bloodhounds as part of the search, North Port Police Department spokesperson Josh Taylor said.

An underwater dive team from the Sarasota Sheriff's Office who are "called upon to search for evidence of crimes and victims of drowning, water accidents and foul play" was also brought in midweek, according to the sheriff's office.

"We're looking through wooded areas, we're looking through bodies of water, we're looking through swampy areas," North Point Police Commander Joe Fussell said in a video shared online Friday. "And we're deploying the resources to be able to do that. We have air units, we have drones, we have the swamp buggies, air boats, multiple law enforcement agencies, we have ATVs, we have UTVs and we have officers on foot as well."

Petito, 22, and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country trip in June and were visiting national parks. They posted online regularly about their travels with the hashtag #VanLife, but those posts abruptly stopped in late August.

Laundrie returned home with their van on September 1. Petito was reported missing September 11 after her family had not been able to get in touch with her. She was found dead eight days later near a campground in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest.

According to an arrest warrant issued Thursday, Laundrie is wanted for the alleged use of "unauthorized devices" in the period following Petito's death.

The warrant "doesn't change anything for us," Fussell said. "We're working as hard to find him now as we did on day one."

The conditions are challenging with murky water, muddy roads and thick vegetation, according to videos shared by North Port police. "Rough is an understatement," Taylor said Thursday of the conditions in the reserve.

He said Saturday's and Sunday's efforts will be focusing on "areas of more likelihood."

Another person says she gave hitchhiking Laundrie a ride in August

With law enforcement combing through the reserve, more stories are emerging of interactions involving Laundrie before his return to Florida.

Norma Jean Jalovec, a seasonal Wyoming resident, told CNN that she picked up Laundrie not far from Jackson Lake Dam on August 29, around 6:15 p.m. and gave him a ride to the Spread Creek dispersed campground where Gabby Petito's remains were later found.

Laundrie was hitchhiking, Jalovec said, and got in the passenger seat of her Toyota SUV 4-Runner.

According to Jalovec, Laundrie told her he and his fiancée had a travel blog, that she was in their van at the camping area working on the blog, and that he had been hiking along the Snake River embankment for a few days.

Jalovec said when they arrived at Spread Creek, she dropped Laundrie off before the gate at the entrance of the camping area. She said she offered once or twice to take him farther, but he was insistent that he be dropped off at the entrance.

Laundrie then offered her gas money, but she declined, she said.

Jalovec said as soon as she saw a series of videos posted on TikTok by Miranda Baker, who said she picked up Laundrie hitchhiking and dropped him at Jackson Lake Dam, she called the FBI and shared all the information she had.

Baker had said she dropped Laundrie near the dam at 6:09 p.m. and Jalovec says she picked him up just a few minutes later.

"I'm glad I was able to help in the investigation that placed him at Spread Creek at a definite time on August 29," Jalovec told CNN.

CNN has not been able to independently verify Baker's claims. North Port police confirmed to CNN that Baker spoke with the department before posting the videos on TikTok.

$30,000 in rewards offered for tips

As the search for Laundrie stretches into its second week, two separate rewards totaling $30,000 have been offered to anyone who provides law enforcement officials with Laundrie's whereabouts.

Boohoff Law, a personal injury law firm, said in a release on its website it is offering a $20,000 reward to be "paid once the investigating law enforcement agency supplies" the firm with "written verification that a tip helped lead to locating" Laundrie.

The law firm, which has multiple offices across Florida, including North Port, said its reward "will remain open for two months starting from the receipt of the tip" by law enforcement.

Meanwhile, a second reward has been offered by Jerry Torres, who said in a tweet Wednesday he was a neighbor of the Petito family. Torres wrote that he and his daughter "offer our deepest condolences to the family of Gabby Petito," adding, "We are offering a reward of $5,000 for tips leading to an arrest."

Torres said Friday the reward he's offering had been raised to $10,000, thanks in part to help by people like Steve Moyer, the former deputy chief of police for Sarasota, Florida.

"Money gets people to talk," Moyer told CNN affiliate WZVN Friday.

Remembering Gabby

The disappearance of Petito, and subsequent search for Laundrie, has received a wave of national interest as well as brought heightened attention to others who have gone missing in the US.

Since the discovery of Petito, vigils have been held from Salt Lake City to the East Coast.

On Friday, residents of Blue Point, New York -- Petito's hometown on Long Island -- lit candles in a memorial to show support for her family.

The organizers of "Light the Night For Gabby Petito" hope that similar demonstrations would stretch beyond Long Island, according to CNN affiliate WABC.

Candles were provided along with a request for a $20 donation with proceeds going to the Petito family, WABC said.

A candle lighting and butterfly release memorial is slated for Saturday evening in North Port in front of its city hall, according to The Daily Sun.

A memorial visitation for Petito is planned for Sunday afternoon in Holbrook on Long Island, according to Moloney's Holbrook Funeral Home. It will be open to the public.

Richard Stafford, an attorney for Petito's family, confirmed in a statement Friday her funeral would be held Sunday, adding that the family has asked for donations to be made to the future Gabby Petito Foundation in lieu of flowers.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Terre Haute
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 55°
Robinson
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 55°
Indianapolis
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Rockville
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 54°
Casey
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 53°
Brazil
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 55°
Marshall
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 55°
Sunny, Breezy & Much Cooler
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Saturday: Sunny, breezy and much cooler. High: 62°

Image

Parke Heritage Fountain Central

Image

North Vermillion Wins a Close One Over Seeger

Image

Casey Dominates Marshall

Image

Vin Lincoln Jasper

Image

South Vermillion Cruises to Victory over Attica

Image

Linton South Putnam

Image

RP Covington

Image

Sullivan-West Vigo

Image

North Daviess-Springs Valley

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1665777

Reported Deaths: 27840
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63126111168
DuPage1074651374
Will906981118
Lake795261076
Kane68004866
Winnebago40745559
Madison39883590
St. Clair36147591
McHenry34415322
Champaign26859196
Peoria26749368
Sangamon25613284
McLean22871216
Tazewell20525330
Rock Island18699358
Kankakee17795247
Kendall16104113
Macon15222250
LaSalle14954285
Vermilion14202198
Adams13072152
DeKalb12078133
Williamson11998174
Whiteside8247181
Jackson806594
Boone787583
Coles7843121
Ogle752487
Grundy731786
Franklin7276114
Knox7197169
Clinton7095102
Macoupin6893104
Marion6871143
Henry659876
Effingham655499
Jefferson6492142
Livingston594697
Stephenson577592
Woodford573592
Randolph552399
Christian530382
Monroe5236100
Fulton521674
Morgan503899
Logan492574
Montgomery487680
Lee476960
Bureau441189
Saline431769
Perry430375
Fayette428964
Iroquois418177
McDonough372360
Shelby343147
Jersey334253
Crawford330830
Lawrence329932
Douglas324737
Union305448
Wayne299961
White278533
Richland278457
Hancock271935
Clark264939
Cass264730
Pike262658
Clay257354
Edgar255249
Bond255024
Warren242765
Ford242259
Carroll235638
Moultrie228833
Johnson223831
Wabash216619
Jo Daviess214529
Massac213748
Mason211652
Washington211428
Greene204540
De Witt204230
Mercer202235
Piatt200614
Cumberland188526
Menard171013
Jasper160521
Marshall140921
Hamilton133322
Schuyler106410
Brown10589
Pulaski103711
Edwards102518
Stark80928
Gallatin7848
Alexander71312
Scott7116
Henderson69614
Calhoun6862
Hardin59416
Putnam5604
Pope5446
Unassigned1582433
Out of IL90

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 996341

Reported Deaths: 16245
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
Whitley558055
Steuben550473
Wabash5250101
Jasper520475
Jefferson504695
Ripley492485
Adams472773
Daviess4596112
Scott433968
Greene421196
Wells419787
Clay418460
White414261
Decatur4118101
Fayette402186
Jennings383260
Posey374243
LaGrange352078
Washington352049
Randolph339999
Spencer336442
Fountain331858
Sullivan326652
Starke310868
Owen310169
Fulton304566
Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
Franklin262742
Carroll258232
Rush257232
Vermillion254254
Parke229726
Pike227343
Tipton225659
Blackford187840
Pulaski181155
Crawford158122
Newton155648
Benton150117
Brown144047
Martin137319
Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532