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Law enforcement in North Carolina has been receiving tips that Brian Laundrie, the former boyfriend of Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, could be hiding out on the Appalachian trail.
Sheriffs’ offices in both Watauga and Avery counties told local outlet WSOC-TV that they had received numerous tips this week from people who think that Laundrie, 23, could be hiding out on local parts of the trail.
Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman told WSOC-TV, “If there’s something legitimate, we’ll check it out. And if there’s something more to it, then the FBI will be contacted -- but not on every call.”
He said that there is no definitive indication that Laundrie is in the area.
Hagaman also told the Watauga Democrat that numerous posts online claim that people have been “seeing Brian Laundrie in Boone, NC.”
“We have been monitoring social media for alleged sightings or information of Brian Laundrie being in this area,” Hagaman said. “But nothing has been verified.”
Both the Watauga and Avery County sheriff departments have not immediately responded to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
The North Carolina section of the trail has also been an area of interest to Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman, who has been on a high profile hunt to find Laundrie. Chapman’s daughter Lyssa Chapman even tweeted a plea for “experienced HIKING/SURVIVALIST near the Appalachian Hiking trail in North Carolina” on Sunday.
It has been two weeks since Laundrie was reported missing by his parents Chris and Roberta. He has been named a person of interest in the investigation into Petito’s disappearance. The 22-year-old travel blogger’s remains were found in Wyoming on Sept. 19; she was last seen alive while on a cross-country trip with Laundrie. A federal arrest warrant was issued for his arrest last week for the unauthorized use of a debit card following Petito’s murder.
Laundrie's parents say he went for a hike at Sarasota County’s Carlton Reserve a few days before they reported him missing. Multiple searches at the swampy reserve have not been successful. He is reputed to be a skilled outdoorsman.
Shortly before going missing — and before the search for Petito had begun — Laundrie and his parents visited a Florida campground 75 miles from their home. Their stay beginning Sept. 6 was confirmed by Bertolino. But he dismissed a theory put forth by reality TV bounty hunter Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman that Brian went on the run during that trip. The whole family “left the park together,” he said.
“Hopefully, they find him soon,” Bertolino told Oxygen.com via phone on Friday morning.
"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.
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