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Florida Investigators Say 'Nothing Of Note' Came From Possible Sighting Of Brian Laundrie Along Trail
A Florida resident reported seeing a person who resembled Brian Laundrie on a trail camera in Baker, Florida, but a search of the area and its surroundings hasn't yielded anything, authorities say.
Florida authorities said they uncovered “nothing of note” while investigating a possible sighting of missing 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in Gabby Petito's disappearance.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office searched farmlands and surrounding area in Baker, Florida after a concerned citizen spotted a man who he believed “strongly fit” Laundrie’s description walking by a trail camera with a backpack slung over his shoulder.
Baker is located just over 500 miles north of Laundrie’s last known location in North Port, Florida.
“The OSCO did its due diligence in response to this report and is wrapping up an extensive search that took place in this area to also include nearby farmlands and a search by drone,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “No one—and nothing—of note was located.”
Authorities don’t believe that Laundrie, who disappeared last week after telling his parents he was going hiking, had any reason to be in the area.
“There are no known possible past or current connections between Laundrie and anyone in this area at this time to follow up on,” authorities said. “In the meantime we will remain vigilant and if anything new of significance develops we will share.”
The sheriff’s office launched the search after Sam Bass posted a grainy image on social media of a man walking past a trail camera in a heavily wooded area in Baker.
“I’m not saying this is the guy but whoever was on my trail camera this morning in Baker, Fl strongly fits the description of Brian Laundrie, authorities have been contacted but people in North West Florida area be on the look out,” he wrote.
Officials also continue to search for Laundrie closer to home.
For days, officials have been searching the Carlton Reserve, a swampy 25,000-acre reserve in Venice, Florida.
Laundrie told his parents he was headed to the reserve on Sept. 14 to go hiking, but never returned home.
His parents reported him missing three days later.
On Wednesday, an underwater dive team arrived at the scene to aid in the ongoing air and land search, CNN reports.
It’s not clear why the underwater experts were called in, although authorities have said they have extensively searched several different terrains within the reserve.
“A weekend ground search and aerial search Monday of the 25-thousand-acre preserve has yet to yield any answers, but we must press on,” North Port Police wrote in an update Tuesday on social media.
The search has been complicated by the unique and challenging elements within the property.
“Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times,” police wrote. “It is currently waste deep in water in many areas. This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.”
The FBI discovered Petito’s body thousands of miles away Sunday in the eastern edge of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, according to a statement from officials. A coroner had determined preliminarily that the 22-year-old died in a homicide.
Petito and Laundrie had been on a cross-country trek through national parks when the 22-year-old disappeared.
Police have said Laundrie returned home to Florida in the van they'd converted into a camper—without Petito—on Sept. 1. Her mother reported her missing 10 days later after she was unable to get in touch with her.
The pair first began dating in high school while both were teenagers in Long Island, New York.
Laundrie’s friend Ben Matula told People the couple had a tumultuous relationship filled with highs and lows.
“One minute, they’d be all over each other, the next minute, he’d be like ‘We’re fighting,’” Matula recalled. “They always had some drama.”
He added that although the relationship appeared enviable at times, “there was always something below the surface where things weren’t 100% wonderful.”
The FBI has asked that anyone staying in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Wyoming, where Petito’s body was later discovered, and may have come in contact with the couple between Aug. 27 and Aug. 30 to contact authorities.
"The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies and Social Media" will air on Oxygen on Monday, January 24 at 9/8c. It's also available to stream on Peacock now.