Florida police are warning people to avoid going to the Carlton Reserve because of the alligators and poisonous snakes. Authorities are investigating if Brian Laundrie, who they want to question in the disappearance of his fiance Gabby Petito, may be hiding out in the 25,000-acre preserve. But investigators have not found him after several days of searching.
Investigators returned to the Sarasota County recreational center on Tuesday to search for Laundrie in a new area. But North Police Police Spokesperson Josh Taylor said that others should stay away.
“Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
Laundrie told his parents last Tuesday that he was going hiking in the Carlton Reserve. But he never returned. Though they didn’t report him missing until Friday. The FBI, with the help of local police, has been searching the massive preserve since.
“This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake-infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails,” Taylor added.
Gabby Petito last spoke to her parents on Aug. 25 while on a trip with Laundrie to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Laundrie returned home alone on Sept. 1 and hasn’t spoken with police about what happened to his 22-year-old fiancee. FBI agents unearthed a woman’s remains that match a description of Gabby Petito on Sunday. A coroner will complete an autopsy later today.
The family of Gabby Petito believes Laundrie fled into the Carlton Reserve to hide from the police. Though police have not named him as a suspect in the case, only a “person of interest.”
Running into that preserve would be a dangerous gambit. The New York Times reported last week that the park is home to feral hogs, alligators, and panthers. And heavy rains have flooded several areas around the preserve.
Police Probe Possible Sighting of Brian Laundrie on Trail Cam
A man in Baker, Florida contacted police after spotting a man walking through the woods on his trail cam. Sam Bass posted a photo of the man on Facebook to alert those in his area about the possible sighting.
“I’m not saying this is the guy but whoever was on my trail camera this morning in Baker, Fl, strongly fits the description of Brian Laundrie,” Bass said of Gabby Petito’s fiancé. “Authorities have been contacted but people in the North West Florida area be on the lookout.”
However, police looked into the report and said that they don’t believe it is Laundrie. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook Tuesday that they investigated the potential sighting, and after an “extensive search,” found nothing.
“The OCSO is wrapping up an extensive search that took place in this area to include nearby farmlands,” the post said. “No one — and nothing — of note was located. The individual referenced in the post below has no known ties to our area.”