NEW YORK — A Long Island lawyer representing the family of Gabby Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie said conditions appeared to be improving at a huge Florida nature preserve where a multiagency manhunt continued on Friday.
“It seems the water in the preserve is receding and certain areas are more accessible to search,” attorney Steve Bertolino said in a statement. “The entire Laundrie family is grateful for the hard work of the dedicated members of law enforcement that have been searching the preserve for Brian over the last few weeks. Hopefully, Brian will be located soon.”
The update came after another day of searching in Sarasota County’s massive Carlton Preserve, a nearly 25,000-acre site where the 23-year-old Florida man was said to be hiking before he went missing last month.
The fugitive is the only person of interest in Petito’s death — a case that has drawn nationwide interest, partly because the Blue Point, N.Y., native had been documenting the couple’s cross-country trip on social media before she died.
The 22-year-old travel influencer was found dead in a Wyoming national park Sept. 19, about a week after she was reported missing and nearly three weeks after Laundrie returned from their trip by himself. Her death was ruled a homicide, but his possible involvement remains unclear.
Laundrie is wanted on a charge of bank card fraud and has been missing since at least Sept. 14, according to the FBI and his family.
His dad, Chris Laundrie, joined the search for his son Thursday, but there were no signs of the missing young man.
“Today 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 in his statement late Thursday. “There were no discoveries but the effort was helpful to all.”
The attorney also confirmed that Brian Laundrie flew home during the couple’s trip to retrieve some items and then went back to Utah. The timeline of his return and his actions after Petito went missing remain a focus point in the investigation, which is being led by the FBI.
He was reportedly under surveillance when he managed to disappear, CNN reported Thursday.
His sister, Cassie Laundrie, went on TV this week to ask her brother to turn himself in.
“Come forward and end this horrible mess,” she said.
- By Nelson Oliveira, New York Daily News