The boyfriend of slain hiker Gabby Petito remains missing as a Wednesday search of the Florida nature preserve where he reportedly went hiking last week turned up nothing.
A law enforcement underwater dive team joined the search on Wednesday, CNN reports. The team, known as the Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Force (SURF), is composed of “highly trained underwater specialists” who are “called upon to search for evidence of crimes and victims of drowning, water accidents and foul play,” according to the sheriff’s office’s website.
North Port police reportedly requested the dive team’s involvement on Wednesday morning. The team includes about 10 divers.
“Nothing found. We will be back out Thursday, similar operation,” local police tweeted Wednesday.
Authorities Should Have Found Signs of Gabby Petito’s Boyfriend By Now
Around midday today, a large van and boat from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office turned up at the Carlton Reserve, where Petito’s boyfriend Brian Laundrie allegedly went hiking last week. The 25,000-acre grounds contain swamps and densely wooded areas.
A local survival expert told USA Today that Carlton offers a bevy of dangerous animals and a dearth of edible food or safe drinking water.
“If he’s down there in the Carlton Reserve, he’s in living hell,” Mark Burrow said.
More to the point, Burrow said authorities should have found evidence by now that Laundrie entered Carlton’s grounds – either tracks or signs that he was killed in there. If they haven’t, he said, Laundrie was probably never there in the first place.
Petito’s Body Positively Identified, Death Ruled a Homicide
Meanwhile, a body found in Teton-Bridger National Forest was positively identified as Gabby Petito’s. The Teton County coroner declared her death a homicide.
Petito and Laundrie had embarked on a cross-country road trip in a white Ford converted camper van this summer. Petito’s mother last heard from her on Aug. 25 while the couple was in Grand Teton National Park. Somewhere around there, and under unknown circumstances, Petito and Laundrie parted ways. Laundrie returned alone to his parents’ house in Florida in the camper van.
Once back from his trip, Laundrie lawyered up and refused to speak to Petito’s family or to authorities. His parents reported him missing last week, three days after they said he left for a hike in Carlton.
Authorities have labeled Laundrie a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance and now death.
There were signs that the couple’s trip across the country had taken a violent turn even before they reached Grand Teton. Police stopped the camper van in Moab, Utah after someone called 9-1-1 to report a domestic disturbance.
According to the police report from the incident, officers were told that Petito had slapped Laundrie, who had then pushed her face and tried to lock her out of the van. The officers decided to separate the couple for one night to give them time to cool off. In police bodycam footage from the stop, Petito has clearly been crying while Laundrie appears quite calm.