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FBI searches Florida home of Gabby Petito’s boyfriend Brian Laundrie

Laundrie, 23, has been identified as a person of interest in the case. He was last seen Tuesday in Sarasota County.
This combo of photos provided by FBI Denver via @FBIDenver shows missing person Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito. Petito, 22, vanished while on a cross-country trip in a converted camper van with her boyfriend. Authorities say a body discovered Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Wyoming, is believed to be Petito. (Courtesy of FBI Denver via AP)
This combo of photos provided by FBI Denver via @FBIDenver shows missing person Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito. Petito, 22, vanished while on a cross-country trip in a converted camper van with her boyfriend. Authorities say a body discovered Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, in Wyoming, is believed to be Petito. (Courtesy of FBI Denver via AP) [ AP ]
Published Sep. 20
Updated Sep. 21

NORTH PORT — FBI agents and police Monday searched the home of the boyfriend wanted for questioning in the death of 22-year-old Gabby Petito, whose body was discovered over the weekend at a Wyoming national park months after the couple set out on a cross-country road trip.

The FBI gave no details on the search by at least a dozen law enforcement officers, but agents removed several boxes and towed away a car that neighbors said was typically used by 23-year-old Brian Laundrie’s mother. Local media said Laundrie’s parents were seen getting into a police vehicle.

Law enforcement officials investigate at the home of Brian Laundrie, a young man wanted for questioning in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, on Monday in North Port.
Law enforcement officials investigate at the home of Brian Laundrie, a young man wanted for questioning in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, on Monday in North Port. [ CURT ANDERSON | AP ]

Laundrie and Petito had been living with his parents at the North Port home before the road trip on which she died.

The young couple had set out in July in a converted van to visit national parks in the West. They got into a fight along the way, and Laundrie was alone when he returned in the van to his parents’ home on Sept. 1, police said.

In Wyoming, the FBI announced on Sunday that agents had discovered a body on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, which the couple had visited. No details on the cause of death were released. An autopsy was set for Tuesday.

Related: Body of Gabrielle Petito believed to be found in Wyoming

“Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified,” FBI agent Charles Jones said.

Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the case, but his whereabouts in recent days were unknown.

Petito’s father, Joseph, posted on social media an image of a broken heart above a picture of his daughter, with the message: “She touched the world.”

A makeshift memorial dedicated to missing woman Gabby Petito is located near City Hall on Monday in North Port.
A makeshift memorial dedicated to missing woman Gabby Petito is located near City Hall on Monday in North Port. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Getty Images North America ]

In an interview broadcast Monday on TV’s “Dr. Phil” show, Joseph Petito said Laundrie and his daughter had dated for 2 ½ years, and Laundrie was “always respectful.” During the interview, which was recorded before his daughter’s body was found, Petito said the couple had taken a previous road trip to California in her car and there were no problems.

“If there were, I would have discouraged going on the trip,” Petito said.

Petito said his family began worrying after several days without hearing from their daughter.

“We called Brian, we called the mom, we called the dad, we called the sister, we called every number that we could find,” Petito said. “No phone calls were picked up, no text messages were returned.”

Petito said he wants Laundrie to be held accountable for whatever part he played in Gabby’s disappearance, along with his family for protecting him.

This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12. The couple was pulled over while they were having an emotional fight. Petito was reported missing by her family a month later.
This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12. The couple was pulled over while they were having an emotional fight. Petito was reported missing by her family a month later. [ AP ]

“I hope they get what’s coming, and that includes his folks,” Petito said. “Because I’ll tell you, right now, they are just as complicit, in my book.”

The FBI said investigators are seeking information from anyone who may have seen the couple around Grand Teton.

Police looking for Laundrie searched a 24,000-acre Florida nature preserve over the weekend without success. Investigators had focused intently on the area after Laundrie’s parents told police he may have gone there.

Related: Search resumes for North Port man whose girlfriend disappeared
In this photo provided by North Port Police Department, law enforcement officials conduct a search of the vast Carlton Reserve in the Sarasota area for Brian Laundrie on Saturday.  Laundrie is a person of interest in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito.
In this photo provided by North Port Police Department, law enforcement officials conduct a search of the vast Carlton Reserve in the Sarasota area for Brian Laundrie on Saturday. Laundrie is a person of interest in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito. [ AP ]

Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts who met while growing up on New York’s Long Island. His parents later moved to North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota.

A man who saw Petito and Laundrie fighting in Moab, Utah, on Aug. 12 called 911 to report a domestic violence incident, according to a recording of the call obtained from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. The man said that he saw Laundrie slap Petito while walking through the town and proceeded to hit her before the two got in their van and drove off.

Video released by the Moab police showed that an officer pulled the couple’s van over on the same day after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near Arches National Park. The body-camera footage showed an upset Petito.

Related: Gabby Petito argued with boyfriend before vanishing, police video shows

Laundrie said on the video that the couple had gotten into a scuffle after he climbed into the van with dirty feet. He said he did not want to pursue a domestic violence charge against Petito, who officers decided was the aggressor.

A makeshift memorial for Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito is seen on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 in North Port. Petito’s body was found in a national park in Wyoming after being reported missing by her parents on September 11th.
A makeshift memorial for Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito is seen on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 in North Port. Petito’s body was found in a national park in Wyoming after being reported missing by her parents on September 11th. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Moab police separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking into a motel and Petito remaining with the van.

In the footage, Gabby Petito cried as she told the officer that she and Laundrie had been arguing over her excessive cleaning of the van. She told the officer she has OCD — obsessive compulsive disorder.

The home of Brian Laundrie is illuminated by lights from television news crews on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 in North Port. Laundrie’s fiancé Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito’s body was found in a national park in Wyoming after being reported missing by her parents on September 11th. Laundrie is one of the last known people to be with her and is not cooperating with law enforcement’s investigation into her disappearance and is now in hiding.
The home of Brian Laundrie is illuminated by lights from television news crews on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 in North Port. Laundrie’s fiancé Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito’s body was found in a national park in Wyoming after being reported missing by her parents on September 11th. Laundrie is one of the last known people to be with her and is not cooperating with law enforcement’s investigation into her disappearance and is now in hiding. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

On “Dr. Phil,” her father said that wasn’t literally true. She just likes to keep her living area orderly and was using slang, he said.

By CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press