Dog the Bounty Hunter claimed on Monday that he had found a campsite Brian Laundrie and his parents stayed at after Laundrie returned home without girlfriend Gabby Petito.
Laundrie’s whereabouts have been the subject of intense interest ever since his girlfriend’s body was found in Wyoming on September 19, with her death ruled to be a homicide.
On September 17, Laundrie – who returned to Florida alone on September 1 – was reported missing by his parents Chris and Roberta Laundrie.
The FBI has taken over the search for Laundrie, and at the weekend reality star Dog, real name Duane Chapman, joined in the hunt. He said he had received over 1,000 tips from members of the public.
On Monday he said he had located a camp site where the Laundrie and his parents had stayed in early September, after he returned from his fateful cross-country trip with Gabby.
Duane Chapman, better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, (pictured at the weekend outside the Laundrie house in North Port, Florida) said on Monday that he had located a campsite where the Laundrie family stayed in September
Laundrie, 23, is the sole ‘person of interest’ in the homicide case of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito
Chapman said that the Laundrie family stayed at this park campsite earlier this month
Chapman told Fox News he received a tip on Monday that Laundrie’s parents spent the night in Fort De Soto Park near St Petersburg, 75 miles north of the family home in North Port.
The family went with their son twice in early September, he claimed.
The Laundries were there from September 1-3 and September 6-8, Chapman said.
‘They were registered, went through the gate. They’re on camera. They were here,’ he told Fox News.
‘We think at least if he’s not here right now, we are sure he was caught on camera as he went in the gate — that he was here for sure. Not over in the swamp.’
The beach at the Fort De Soto park in Florida, where the Laundries stayed in early September
Chapman is seen on Saturday arriving at the Laundrie family home. They called 911 on him
Search efforts have so far been concentrated at the Carlton Reserve – an alligator-infested watery 25,000 acre site 13 miles north of the Laundrie family home in North Port.
‘Allegedly, what we’re hearing, is two people left on the 8th,’ said Chapman.
‘Three people came in on the 6th, and two people left on the 8th. I think he’s been here for sure.’
A Fox News Digital reporter overheard a park worker say investigators had checked surveillance video on the grounds.
The FBI has not commented.
The Laundrie family insisted on Monday they did not know where Brian Laundrie was.
Steven Bertolino, the family lawyer, said in the statement: ‘Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is.
‘They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him.
‘The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong.’
Chapman’s claim came after it was announced the all-out search in the Carlton Reserve will be scaled back as the FBI takes over the hunt.
North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor said: ‘The FBI is now leading the search.
‘I’m told it will be scaled back and targeted based on intelligence.
‘Hopefully, water will lower in areas hard to currently access,’ he told Fox News.
The federal agency charged Laundrie with ‘use of unauthorized access device’ last Thursday, but said they will ‘continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide.’
An extensive search for Laundrie, 23, has been underway since his parents reported him missing on September 17 – two days after he was named a person of interest in the homicide of Petito, whose remains were found on September 19.
A group of 75 officers from more than 16 agencies joined the search last week, using drones, diver units, dogs and ATV vehicles to comb the 25,000-acre preserve since his parents reported that Laundrie might be there.
Over 100 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails are contained in the park, along with camping areas and rivers. Wildlife there includes alligators, bobcats, snakes and coyotes.
Josh Taylor, a spokesman for the North Port Police, said on Monday that the all-out search for Gabby Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie (pictured) in Florida’s swampy, alligator-infested Carlton Reserve was to scale back
A fleet of 75 officers from over 16 agencies joined the search for Brian Laundrie last week
Whether the avid hiker would have been able to survive in the 25,000-acre swamp-like Carlton Reserve (pictured) for weeks has been the subject of much speculation
Drones, helicopters, diver units, dogs and ATV vehicles the 25,000-acre preserve meticulously since his parents suggested to authorities that Laundrie might be there on September 17
FBI agents paid another visit to the home of his parents to retrieve ‘personal items’ for DNA matching. Laundrie’s mom Roberta, 55, was seen darting outside at 10am to leave an item in the screened porch of their North Port, Florida home
Florida cattle rancher Alan McEwen, who lives outside the Carlton Reserve, has spent 30 years exploring the area and said it’s not somewhere humans can easily live. He has been assisting police in their search for Laundrie.
‘There’s no surviving out here, I don’t know how to say it,’ he told Fox News.
‘I’ve been in the woods in and out all my life. I have learned a lot in my life, and one thing I know is no one is gonna survive out there for two weeks on foot.’
Chapman vowed to find him before his 24th birthday on November 18.
Seattle’s Boohoof Law offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
The couple had spent weeks traveling across the country in a van and recording their adventures online before Petito, 22, vanished.
Gabby Petito disappeared while on a cross country road trip with Laundrie. Her remains were found on September 19
Florida cattle rancher Alan McEwen (pictured), who lives outside the Carlton Reserve (pictured), has spent 30 years exploring the area and said it’s not somewhere humans can easily live
The couple had spent weeks traveling across the country in a van and recording their adventures online before Petito, 22, vanished
Laundrie’s parents suggested he might have headed to the nature reserve, which he was known to visit and which is about 15 miles from his home.
Whether the avid hiker would have been able to survive in the 25,000-acre swamp-like reserve for weeks has been the subject of much speculation.
In the nearly two weeks since Laundrie is thought to have entered the reserve, heavy rainfall has flooded the area with waist-deep water.
‘Unless he’s got a butt like a duck and can float, he’s not in there,’ McEwen said.
The rancher noted the dangers posed by alligators, mosquitos and other animals in the reserve, which is home to panthers, black bears, wild boar and lethal snakes.
The terrain is also treacherous, according to McEwen, who said the thick brush makes it easy for even experienced outdoorsmen to accidentally step into a ditch or off a ledge.
However, McEwen believes it’s unlikely Laundrie would have died in the reserve, saying his body would have been found by now.
‘Anything dead you find in the woods, you’re gonna look up, you’re gonna see buzzards flying like crazy,’ he said.
‘No buzzards, no body is my theory. And I haven’t seen any buzzards flying.’
Whether the avid hiker would have been able to survive in the 25,000-acre swamp-like reserve for weeks has been the subject of much speculation. Pictured: The reserve following heavy rainfall
McEwen believes it’s unlikely Laundrie would have died in the reserve, saying his body would have been found by now
On Sunday, FBI agents paid another visit to the home of his parents to retrieve ‘personal items’ – for DNA matching.
Laundrie’s mom Roberta, 55, was seen darting outside at 10am to leave an item in the screened porch of their North Port, Florida home.
An hour later two FBI agents with bulletproof vests, weapons and a clipboard walked up the drive, hovering at the front door before stooping to pick something up.
When asked by a DailyMail.com reporter about the purpose of the visit neither agent responded but the family’s lawyer, Steven Bertolino, said that agents wanted a sample of missing Brian’s DNA.
He cautioned that it was a ‘routine’ request rather that an indication that Laundrie had finally been found.
Over the weekend, new dispatch audio emerged showing that Utah police were told Laundrie had hit Petito prior to being pulled over on August 12.
The audio appears to contradict earlier reports that the responding officers in Moab City, Utah were unaware of a call from a witness who claimed to have seen Laundrie slapping Petito in their white Ford transit van before driving off.
‘RP (reporting party) states seeing a male hit a female, domestic,’ the dispatcher told police at around 4.38pm local time, according to the audio, first obtained by Fox 13.
‘He got into a white Ford Transit van, has a black ladder on the back, Florida plate.’
An officer asks for further information regarding the witness, and is again told that Petito had allegedly been hit.
‘Phone number is [redacted], name’s [redacted],’ the dispatcher responds at 4:42 p.m. ‘I’m not sure [inaudible], but the female who got hit, they both, the male and the female, both got into the van and headed north.’
The new information comes as the Moab Police Department announced an independent probe on Thursday into the officers’ handing of the alleged domestic dispute about a month before Petito was found dead.
Neither police nor city officials have said whether the responding officers were aware they were dealing with a potential domestic violence incident when they pulled the couple over.
But they treated Petito as the primary aggressor in bodycam footage of the August 12 incident, after Laundrie was seen to have wounds on his face.
New dispatch audio indicates that the Moab City, Utah police officers who pulled over Gabby Petito (right) and her fiance Brian Laundrie on August 12 may have been aware that a witness had alleged seeing Laundrie slap Petito, but did not arrest neither. The police stop was recorded on the officers’ body cameras (pictured)
Utah law requires cops to make an arrest or issue a citation if they believe an incident of domestic violence has taken place.
Neither Petito nor Laundrie were arrested. They were instead separated for the night in an attempt to calm the situation down, before being allowed to continue on their way.
On Sunday, hundreds of mourners packed a Long Island funeral home to bid farewell to Petito.
‘The entire planet knows this woman’s name,’ said her father Joe Petito, standing before a golden urn at the Moloney Holbrook Funeral Home.
The standing-room only chapel was adorned with bouquets of flowers, and photo and video montages of his daughter.
They showed her life growing up in Blue Point, Long Island, including a picture of Petito as a little girl with her small hand print on a piece of paper. Behind the urn was a more recent photo of her standing at the foot of a cave.
‘She always wanted to go out and do stuff, whether it was scuba diving with my uncle, or myself, or hiking the Appalachian trail, surfing sand dunes in Colorado,’ the father said.
‘She had some wild experiences that I could only wish that I could experience.
‘To see that type of joy that brought her, and the stones it took to do that at such a young age,’ he continued.
‘I would like you to take a look at these videos and I want you to be inspired by them.’
At Sunday’s visitation, Petito’s father didn’t discuss the circumstances of her death, but offered advice for people in bad relationships.
‘I want you to take a look at these pictures, and I want you to be inspired by Gabby. If there’s a trip you guys want to take, take it now. Do it now while you have the time.’
‘If there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it now. Take care of yourself first.’
Mourners were seen hugging and crying as they consoled one another while attending Petito’s public funeral service
Family and friends mourned Petito at a funeral service on Sunday in Holbrook, Suffolk County, along with many strangers who came to pay their respects