Gabby Petito Case: Missing Persons Expert Says Brian Laundrie Likely Left Florida With Help

by Chris Haney

On Thursday, authorities returned to the Carlton Reserve to search for Brian Laundrie who is the main suspect in the death of his fiancée Gabby Petito. However, some experts assume Laundrie has fled the state of Florida and he may have had help leaving.

Laundrie is a person of interest in the disappearance and death of Gabby Petito, which officials ruled a homicide. After weeks of searching the Carlton Reserve, an expansive Florida wildlife refuge, authorities have found no signs of Laundrie. Now, former FBI agent Bryanna Fox has weighed in on the ongoing investigation. The associate professor of criminology at the University of South Florida in Tampa thinks Laundrie had help leaving the state.

“It seems unlikely that he’s still in that reserve. They did not find any trace of him so far. It’s been weeks,” Fox explained to NBC News.

Fox says the 23-year-old suspect in the Gabby Petito case may have had financial or transportation assistance. The former FBI agent also thinks if he hitchhiked or took a bus that witnesses would have notified police by now. Therefore she thinks someone “very close” to Laundrie helped him.

“The idea that nothing has been said reinforces to me that he was likely getting help,” Fox continued. “Obviously, that person would have to be very loyal and very close to him … to not compromise his identity.”

Brian Laundrie’s Dad Helped Authorities Search For Son in Gabby Petito Case

Brain Laundrie and Gabby Petito went on a cross-country tour of America’s national parks this summer. Their months-long trip came to an abrupt end though when Laundrie took Petito’s van and drove home to Florida without her in tow. On Sept. 19, officials found the body of Gabby Petito in Grand Teton National Park.

As a massive FBI-led manhunt ensued for Brian Laundrie and his whereabouts, the focus of the search led to the Carlton Reserve. Authorities have combed over the 25,000-acre wildlife refuge for weeks now. Laundrie’s family told police that he went hiking there on Sept. 13 and never returned home. On Thursday, law enforcement returned to the Carlton Reserve with the help of Laundrie’s father, Chris Laundrie. According to Laundrie family lawyer Steven Bertolino, the search came up empty-handed once again.

“Chris Laundrie accompanied members of law enforcement into the Reserve to show them the trails and places Chris and Brian have hiked and which Brian was known to frequent,” Bertolino said. “There were no discoveries but the effort was helpful to all. It seems the water in the Reserve is receding and certain areas are more accessible to search. … Hopefully Brian will be located soon.”

Former FBI agent Bryanna Fox spoke about the difficulties of the reserve’s terrain. She said that the terrain and weather could easily erase evidence of Laundrie’s whereabouts.

“These factors that are here in Florida, a subtropical environment, are known to degrade evidence,” Fox added about the environment. “Imagine a massive landscape that’s extremely dangerous. There are snakes, gators and animals. There is rain, torrential downpours that come down out of the blue. It’s hot.”