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Crime News Breaking News

‘Let’s Have The Same Energy We Did With Gabby,’ Teen Goes Missing Near Brian Laundrie Search

Police in North Port are looking for 16-year-old Desirae Malava-Ortiz, who vanished this week near where the search for Brian Laundrie is taking place. 

By Gina Tron
Desirae Malava Ortiz Pd

A Florida teen has vanished close to where the high profile search for Brian Laundrie is taking place. 

Desirae Malava-Ortiz, 16, left her home in North Port this week and never returned, the North Port police department wrote in a Thursday press release.

“Desirae left by unknown means of travel, wearing torn jeans, an unknown color sweatshirt, and white shoes,” they noted. “Desirae was not located at her boyfriend’s residence or her place of work.”

They believe that she could be with an 18-year-old man named Tyler, who drives a gray, 2-door Honda sedan with a tan-colored passenger side door. Her family thinks she could have recently been in the Venice or Nokomis area.

She’s like the most sweetest person I’ve known since middle school,” one commenter wrote on the press release, posted on the police department’s Facebook page.

“Come on y’all let’s have the same energy we did with gabby,” wrote another.

Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, 22, and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie were living in the same town as Malava-Ortiz for about a year before they embarked on their now-notorious cross country trip.

Petito's remains were found in Wyoming on Sept. 19, weeks after Laundrie, 23, returned to his parents' home in North Port without her. Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the investigation into her disappearance. There is a federal arrest warrant issued for Laundrie's arrest for the unauthorized use of a debit or credit card following Petito’s murder, though it doesn't specify whose card he allegedly used. 

Laundrie has been unaccounted for since mid-September when his parents claim he vanished while hiking in Florida’s Sarasota County’s Carlton Reserve. Multiple attempts to find the fugitive at that swampy reserve, including a search that involved Laundrie’s father on Thursday, have not been successful. 

The Petito murder and the manhunt to locate Laundrie has dominated the news cycle. The media frenzy has exposed a bias in the mainstream coverage of other missing people, particularly people of color.

Anyone with information regarding Malava-Ortiz’s whereabouts is urged to contact North Port Detective Kishia Veigel at 941.429.7335 or kveigel@northportpd.com. 

For more on the case, watch “The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies and Social Media,” premiering Friday, Dec. 17. on Peacock.