Authorities scour wilderness preserve for Laundrie, person of interest in Gabby Petito's disappearance
A week after frantic search efforts began to find missing Long Island native Gabby Petito, the one person thought to hold all the answers has also disappeared.
The revelation was made Friday night as protesters demanded answers outside Brian Laundrie's home in North Port, Florida. Police spoke with his family inside and learned that he had gone missing.
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Police say the Laundrie family is claiming that they “have not seen their son since Tuesday.”
Federal and local law enforcement spent Saturday scouring the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Venice, Florida for Laundrie. The family told authorities they believe he entered the county park earlier in the week.
Laundrie, 23, has faced mounting scrutiny since Petito didn't return from a cross-country road trip the couple had documented on YouTube and other social media. Police named him a person of interest in Petito's disappearance.
Laundrie remained tight-lipped about his fiancée’s whereabouts.
The Petito family released a blistering statement through their attorney, saying, "All of Gabby's family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing."
The Petito family attorney told News 12 that no interviews will be granted with family on Long Island for the time being. Petito's stepfather Jim Schmidt has been talking to the media from Wyoming.
“All that matters is finding her and bringing her home,” he said.
Schmidt is with federal and local authorities in Wyoming, where they have focused the search for Petito in National Teton Park. The FBI released a new missing person poster of Petito.
Her family is praying someone will see it and provide information that will help bring her home safe.
"We're keeping each other up. Remaining strong. We have our moments. We're human. But we're still focused on what we need to do and that's to find her, and we're determined to do that," said Schmidt.