Police Say The Fiancé Of Missing "Van Life" Influencer Gabby Petito Has Disappeared Too
"All of Gabby's family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding," the Petito family attorney said.
Police said they no longer know the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie, whose 22-year-old "van life" influencer fiancé, Gabrielle Petito, has been missing since he returned from a cross-country road trip without her weeks ago, and officials are actively searching for him.
Law enforcement officers, including the FBI, said Saturday that they are conducting a search for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve, a sprawling 25,000-acre park in Sarasota County, Florida.
A lawyer for the Laundrie family contacted investigators late Friday "indicating the family would like to talk about the disappearance of their son," police said in a statement. "The family now claims that they have not seen Brian since Tuesday of this week."
North Port Public Information Officer Joshua Taylor told BuzzFeed News that police had thought Laundrie was at his family's home after he returned alone from the road trip with Petito.
Police have been seeking to interview Laundrie for nearly a week since last Saturday night at his family's home, where the couple had been living prior to their trip. But they did not hear from the family until Laundrie's disappearance Friday, according to the police statement.
"For six days the North Port Police Department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian's [fiancé] Gabby Petito. Friday is the first time they have spoken with investigators in detail," said the statement.
Police also reiterated that while Laundrie is a person of interest in Petito's disappearance, he is not a suspect. Officials have said the investigation is being treated as a missing persons case, not a criminal case.
Richard Stafford, an attorney representing the Petito family, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. But Stafford told CNN, "All of Gabby's family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing."
The development further deepens the mystery surrounding Petito's disappearance.
The couple had been documenting their monthslong cross-country road trip on their individual social media accounts, where they amassed a large following. Petito's one and only YouTube video, featuring clips from their journey, was uploaded Aug. 19.
Laundrie returned from the road trip in a white van that belonged to Petito on Sept. 1, and Petito's family said he did not make any contact with them about her disappearance. On Sept. 11, Petito's family reported her missing, saying they have not heard from her since the last week of August.
The couple had been traveling around the western US and were believed to be in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming before Petito went missing. Prior to that, they had been in Utah, where Moab police had been called about a potential domestic dispute between the couple on Aug. 12.
Police wrote in a report that Petito had been "crying uncontrollably" when they arrived, and in body camera footage released by the department, officers were seen discussing whether to charge Petito for hitting Laundrie.
"Both the male and the female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn't wish to see anyone charged with a crime," the report said.
Officers concluded that issue was a "mental health crisis" rather than a domestic assault, and recommended that the couple spend the night apart. No charges were filed in the incident.