Gabby Petito: The search for Brian Laundrie in a swampy Florida nature reserve enters its second week


The search of the Carlton Reserve will resume Saturday, officials said.

An underwater dive team from the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office who are “called upon to search for evidence of crimes and victims of drowning, water accidents and foul play” was also brought in midweek, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We’re looking through wooded areas, we’re looking through bodies of water, we’re looking through swampy areas,” North Point Police Commander Joe Fussell said in a video shared online Friday. “And we’re deploying the resources to be able to do that. We have air units, we have drones, we have the swamp buggies, air boats, multiple law enforcement agencies, we have ATVs, we have UTVs and we have officers on foot as well.”

Petito, 22, and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country trip in June and were visiting national parks. They posted online regularly about their travels with the hashtag #VanLife, but those posts abruptly stopped in late August.

Laundrie returned home with their van on September 1. Petito was reported missing September 11 after her family had not been able to get in touch with her. She was found dead eight days later near a campground in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest.

According to an arrest warrant issued Thursday, Laundrie is wanted for the alleged use of “unauthorized devices” in the period following Petito’s death.

The warrant “doesn’t change anything for us,” Fussell said. “We’re working as hard to find him now as we did on day one.”

The conditions are challenging with murky water, muddy roads and thick vegetation, according to videos shared by North Port police. “Rough is an understatement,” Taylor said Thursday of the conditions in the reserve.

He said Saturday’s and Sunday’s efforts will be focusing on “areas of more likelihood.”

Another person says she gave hitchhiking Laundrie a ride in August

With law enforcement combing through the reserve, more stories are emerging of interactions involving Laundrie before his return to Florida.

Norma Jean Jalovec, a seasonal Wyoming resident, told CNN that she picked up Laundrie not far from Jackson Lake Dam on August 29, around 6:15 p.m. and gave him a ride to the Spread Creek dispersed campground where Gabby Petito’s remains were later found.

Laundrie was hitchhiking, Jalovec said, and got in the passenger seat of her Toyota SUV 4-Runner.

According to Jalovec, Laundrie told her he and his fiancée had a travel blog, that she was in their van at the camping area working on the blog, and that he had been hiking along the Snake River embankment for a few days.

A timeline of 22-year-old Gabby Petito's case

Jalovec said when they arrived at Spread Creek, she dropped Laundrie off before the gate at the entrance of the camping area. She said she offered once or twice to take him farther, but he was insistent that he be dropped off at the entrance.

Laundrie then offered her gas money, but she declined, she said.

Jalovec said as soon as she saw a series of videos posted on TikTok by Miranda Baker, who said she picked up Laundrie hitchhiking and dropped him at Jackson Lake Dam, she called the FBI and shared all the information she had.

Baker had said she dropped Laundrie near the dam at 6:09 p.m. and Jalovec says she picked him up just a few minutes later.

“I’m glad I was able to help in the investigation that placed him at Spread Creek at a definite time on August 29,” Jalovec told CNN.

CNN has not been able to independently verify Baker’s claims. North Port police confirmed to CNN that Baker spoke with the department before posting the videos on TikTok.

$30,000 in rewards offered for tips

As the search for Laundrie stretches into its second week, two separate rewards totaling $30,000 have been offered to anyone who provides law enforcement officials with Laundrie’s whereabouts.

Boohoff Law, a personal injury law firm, said in a release on its website it is offering a $20,000 reward to be “paid once the investigating law enforcement agency supplies” the firm with “written verification that a tip helped lead to locating” Laundrie.

The law firm, which has multiple offices across Florida, including North Port, said its reward “will remain open for two months starting from the receipt of the tip” by law enforcement.

Meanwhile, a second reward has been offered by Jerry Torres, who said in a tweet Wednesday he was a neighbor of the Petito family. Torres wrote that he and his daughter “offer our deepest condolences to the family of Gabby Petito,” adding, “We are offering a reward of $5,000 for tips leading to an arrest.”
Torres said Friday the reward he’s offering had been raised to $10,000, thanks in part to help by people like Steve Moyer, the former deputy chief of police for Sarasota, Florida.

“Money gets people to talk,” Moyer told CNN affiliate WZVN Friday.

Remembering Gabby

The disappearance of Petito, and subsequent search for Laundrie, has received a wave of national interest as well as brought heightened attention to others who have gone missing in the US.
Since the discovery of Petito, vigils have been held from Salt Lake City to the East Coast.
These families of missing Black people are frustrated with the lack of response to their cases

On Friday, residents of Blue Point, New York — Petito’s hometown on Long Island — lit candles in a memorial to show support for her family.

The organizers of “Light the Night For Gabby Petito” hope that similar demonstrations would stretch beyond Long Island, according to CNN affiliate WABC.

Candles were provided along with a request for a $20 donation with proceeds going to the Petito family, WABC said.

A candle lighting and butterfly release memorial is slated for Saturday evening in North Port in front of its city hall, according to The Daily Sun.

A memorial visitation for Petito is planned for Sunday afternoon in Holbrook on Long Island, according to Moloney’s Holbrook Funeral Home. It will be open to the public.

Richard Stafford, an attorney for Petito’s family, confirmed in a statement Friday her funeral would be held Sunday, adding that the family has asked for donations to be made to the future Gabby Petito Foundation in lieu of flowers.

CNN’s Randi Kaye, Leyla Santiago, Dakin Andone, Steve Almasy, Kate Conerly, Christina Maxouris, Rebekah Riess, Gregory Lemos and Sara Weisfeldt contributed to this report.





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