Brian Laundrie still missing after arrest warrant issued in Gabby Petito case

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, September 24, 2021
Brian Laundrie still missing after arrest warrant issued in Gabby Petito case
Brian Laundrie remained missing Friday after the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a warrant on Wednesday, related to Laundrie's activities following the death of Gabby Petito.

NORTH PORT, Florida (WABC) -- Brian Laundrie remained missing Friday after an arrest warrant was issued Wednesday, related to Laundrie's activities following the death of Gabby Petito.

In Florida, searchers on spent a sixth day searching for Laundrie in the forbidding wilderness preserve near his parents' home.

The search at the Carlton Reserve park began after Laundrie told his parents he was going there, several days after returning alone Sept. 1 from his trip out west with Petito.

The U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued an arrest warrant and indictment on Thursday. The indictment charge is related to Laundrie's unauthorized use of a Capital One debit card and pin code with "intent to defraud" between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 in Wyoming and elsewhere with a value of $1,000 or more.

Commander Joseph Fussell, leading the search in Florida, says the warrant for Laundrie doesn't really change anything for them and that they're still working as hard as they can to find him if he's still in the Carlton Reserve area.

"We're looking through wooded areas, through bodies of water. We're looking through swampy areas and we're deploying the resources to be able to do that," he said. "We are not wasting our time out here. We are doing our due diligence to find Brian in an area that intelligence has led us to believe he could possibly be in."

Meanwhile, back on Long Island, a funeral for Petito will be held Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at Moloney's Holbrook Funeral Home.

The service open to the public, and the family has also given its blessing for the media to be there.

Petito, 22, was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after they she did not respond to calls and texts for several days while the couple visited parks in the West during their cross-country road trip.

Her body was discovered Sunday at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. A coroner ruled her death a homicide.

City of Moab, UT launches investigation into police handling of domestic incident

The City of Moab, Utah has launched an investigation into the police's handling of the Petito and Laundrie domestic incident that was caught on body cam on August 12.

In a statement from Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge, he says "an outside party filed a request with the Moab City Police Department asking for a formal investigation into the Aug. 12 incident in Moab involving Gabrielle Petito and Brian Laundrie."

He goes on to say, "At this time, the City of Moab is unaware of any breach of Police Department policy during this incident. However, the City will conduct a formal investigation and, based on the results, will take any next steps that may be appropriate."

Couple seen in explosive argument at Wyoming restaurant in Wyoming

A woman named Nina Celie Angelo took to her Instagram, saying she was there that day and witnessed the couple get into an explosive argument at the restaurant.

Angelo says Laundrie was screaming at the hostess and Petito was in tears and apologizing.

The Blue-Collar Restaurant Group confirmed to ABC News on Wednesday that they believe Petito and Laundrie were at their Merry Piglet restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on August 27.

"Friday, August 27th, 1 p.m. sitting right next to them, they got kicked out of the restaurant and were fighting with the hostess. They were fighting with the hostess -- she was hysterically crying and she walked out and she was crying and she was staying on the sidewalk," Angelo said on her Instagram stories.

WATCH | Gabby Petito Special: Tragic cross-country adventure

Eyewitness News has a special presentation on the Gabby Petito case as the search for her fiancé Brian Laundrie intensifies.

Underwater team joins the search

Meanwhile, divers joined in the search for 23-year-old Laundrie in Florida on Wednesday.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office confirmed that they sent members of their Sheriff's Underwater Recovery Force to Carlton Reserve.

The search for Laundrie is centered on a massive reserve near North Port where investigators said he returned to his family's home on Sept. 1 without his fiancee Gabby Petito, 22, but driving her 2012 Ford Transit.

Officials said large bodies of water are located in the reserve and deploying the dive team does not mean anything has been found. It's a part of the overall search process.

Laundrie has been named by police as a "person of interest" in Petito's disappearance. He has refused to speak to the police and has not been seen since Tuesday, Sept. 14, according to law enforcement officials.

Investigators first searched the 25,000-acre Carolton Reserve over the weekend without success. They focused on the area after Laundrie's parents told police he may have gone there.

The search moved to the Venice area of the reserve on Tuesday, where they remained on Wednesday. Authorities have also deployed dogs, multiple all-terrain vehicles and drones in their search.

North Port police video of the search for Brian Laundrie on Wednesday

Laundrie neighbor recalls seeing Brian after his return

A neighbor of the Laundrie's in North Port, Florida says she saw Brian Laundrie after his return home.

Karyn Aberts told Kristin Thorne that she saw him walking with his parents but thought nothing of it. She described the current situation as "very surreal."

The full interview is below.

Kristin Thorne talks to Laundrie neighbor Karyn Aberts

2nd witness corroborates domestic dispute between couple

Police have released a written statement from a person who witnessed the domestic dispute between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie in August.

In the statement reported on August 12, the witness, named Chris, claims that the couple appeared to have some sort of dispute and recalls Petito punching Laundrie in the arm and face.

Another witness who called 911 claimed he witnessed Brian Laundrie "slapping" Gabby Petito and chasing her up and down a sidewalk.

Moab Police Department in Utah responded to the incident that day, located the van and pulled the couple over.

Why isn't there an arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie?

ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams explained why there hasn't been an arrest warrant issued for Brian Laundrie in the Gabby Petito case and why the cause of death for Petito has yet to be released.

"They want to find him. Period. They are now devoting all of their resources as if there was an arrest warrant out for him. But there's still not officially an arrest warrant," Abrams said. "I think that they want to gather all of the evidence so that they don't get accused in a trial later of making mistakes."

A warrant could change the obligations of Brian Laundrie's parents, he added.

You can watch the full interview here.

Man seen on video in Panhandle was not him

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office has positively identified the individual whose image was captured on a deer trail camera near Baker and shared on social media, sparking nationwide speculation that it was Laundrie.

The OCSO has confirmed the man is an Okaloosa County resident who acknowledged he was the one walking on the deer trail carrying his backpack. Several OCSO deputies familiar with the individual noticed the resemblance to the photo of the person spotted on the deer trail, as well as the presence of a neck tattoo.

The private citizen was located and a positive identification has been made.

During its search and investigation, the OCSO found no indications that Brian Laundrie is, or was, in Okaloosa County.

Gabby Petito's coroner report

Gabby Petito died by homicide, a coroner concluded on Tuesday while also confirming that the human remains found recently at a Wyoming national park were those of the 22-year-old woman.

Her body was discovered at a Wyoming national park over the weekend, months after the couple, originally from Long Island, set out on a cross-country road trip.

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said the cause of her death remains pending final autopsy results.

Growing memorial for Gabby Petito's hometown

Neighbors have put up teal ribbons around the Petito family home in Blue Point, New York on Long Island. It's a show of support to remember and pay tribute to Gabby's memory.

In Wyoming, someone set up a makeshift cross with river rocks from the slowly disappearing Spread Creek. The location is where Petito's remains are believed to have been found.

An attorney for the Petito family released a statement promising a statement from the family when "Gabby comes home."

RELATED | Gabby Petito disappearance timeline: What we know so far

Gabby Petito was traveling with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, in a cargo van the two had outfitted as a makeshift recreational vehicle for a months-long cross-country road trip when she mysteriously disappeared.

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

ALSO READ: ABC Exclusive: Full interview with Brian Laundrie's sister on Gabby Petito

ABC News interviews Cassie Laundrie, Brian Laundrie's sister about Gabby Petito's disappearance.


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