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Piecing Together Brian Laundrie's Movements After Gabby Petito Disappearance
While Gabby Petito was missing, investigators say Brian Laundrie returned to Florida alone on Sept. 1, then proceeded to buy a new cell phone and go camping with his own family before disappearing himself.
New details are starting to emerge about how Brian Laundrie spent his time after returning to Florida on Sept. 1, without girlfriend Gabby Petito.
Laundrie vanished two weeks later after his parents said he left their North Port, Florida home on Sept. 14 to go hiking in Sarasota County’s Carlton Reserve.
Yet, for nearly two weeks before he disappeared, Laundrie was living at his home, purchasing a new cell phone and going camping with his parents at the Fort De Soto campground in Pinellas County.
Petito’s mother reported her missing on Sept. 11 after she hadn’t spoken to her daughter in weeks—but even as the investigation to find the 22-year-old ramped up, Laundrie refused to cooperate with investigators, seemingly hunkering down in his parent’s home before he disappeared.
Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, where she had been traveling with Laundrie before she disappeared. A medical examiner has determined the bubbly, adventurous travel blogger died from a homicide.
A timeline is now starting to emerge about how Laundrie spent those days after returning to Florida:
Sept. 1: Laundrie returned to North Port, Florida in the couple’s white Ford Transit van on Sept. 1 without his girlfriend, police said.
Sept. 4: Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino told CNN that Laundrie purchased a cell phone at an AT&T store in North Port. The phone was later recovered at the family’s home by the FBI after Laundrie left it behind, Bertolino said.
Sept. 6-8: Laundrie and his parents left their North Port home to go camping at Fort De Soto Park about 75 miles away in Pinellas County.
Records obtained by Fox News show the family arrived at the campsite at Sept. 6 and checked out on Sept. 8.
Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman has alleged that he received a tip that three people checked into the campsite and only two people left, suggesting that Laundrie may have stayed behind to make his getaway.
However, the family’s attorney has insisted that “they all left the park together.”
Pinellas County Sheriff Sgt. Jessica Mackesy told Oxygen.com Thursday that the sheriff’s office has provided surveillance video from Fort De Soto to the FBI for their investigation.
She said there have “been no confirmed sightings or reports of Brian in Pinellas County” and said the sheriff’s office is not currently searching for him.
The weekend of Sept. 10: Laundrie neighbor Karyn Aberts reports this was the last weekend she saw Laundrie at his home, according to CNN.
Sept. 11: Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, reported her daughter missing to the Suffolk County Police Department in New York at approximately 6:55 p.m., according to police. She told investigators that she had last spoken to her daughter on Aug. 25 as the couple was heading to Grand Teton National Park.
Sept. 14: Laundrie’s parents said he left the family’s home in his Ford Mustang, carrying a hiking backpack, according to The Sarasota Herald-Tribune. He allegedly told his family he was heading to the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre swampy nature preserve not far from his home, and never returned. Laundrie’s family didn’t report him missing until three days later.
Law enforcement launched a massive search effort to try to find Laundrie in what North Port Police described as a “vast and unforgiving” location.
“It is currently waste-deep in water in many areas,” police said. “This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.”
Sept. 19: The FBI announced that Petito’s remains had been discovered in a remote area of the Grand Teton National Park known as the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping area. A medical examiner would later determine that she had died of a homicide.
“The FBI and our partners remain dedicated to ensuring anyone responsible for or complicit in Ms. Petito’s death is held accountable for their actions,” FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said. “Brian Laundrie has been named a person of interest. Anyone with information concerning Mr. Laundrie’s role in this matter or his current whereabouts should contact the FBI.”
Witnesses had reported seeing the couple’s van parked in the area in late August.
Sept. 27: North Port Police announced that the search for Laundrie at the Carlton Reserve was being scaled back.
“I don't think you're going to see those large-scale types of efforts this week,” North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor told Oxygen.com. “The FBI is now leading the search. I'm told, It will be scaled back and targeted based on intelligence.”
That same day, Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta, issued a statement through their attorney saying they don’t know where their son is.
“They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him,” attorney Steve Bertolino told People. “The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parent 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.”
"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.