Brian Laundrie’s father arrived at a vast Florida nature reserve Thursday to join the weeks-old search for his fugitive son, who is sought in the disappearance and death of Long Island native Gabby Petito.
Chris Laundrie left his North Port home early in the day and arrived at the Myakkahtchee Creek Environmental Park next to the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve, where authorities have been searching for the 23-year-old since Sept. 18.
“Chris was asked to point out any favorite trails or spots that Brian may have used in the preserve,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said in a text on Thursday.
“Although Chris and Roberta Laundrie provided this information verbally 3 weeks ago it is now thought that on-site assistance may be better,” he said. “The preserve has been closed to the public and the Laundries as well but the parents have been cooperating since the search began.”
Bertolino initially said late Wednesday that Chris Laundrie had been asked to join the search — a claim North Port police denied on Thursday.
It is unclear if the dad was asked to assist by the FBI or another agency.
Brian Laundrie is the sole person of interest in Petito’s disappearance and death during the young couple’s ill-fated cross-country trip.
Petito vanished in late August and her body was found at a remote Wyoming campground on Sept. 19, nearly three weeks after Laundrie returned home alone.
Petito’s death was ruled a homicide and Laundrie was identified as a person of interest in the case. He disappeared from his parents’ home on Sept. 13, Bertolino said.
His parents have remained largely holed up in their home, which has been besieged by protesters and reporters since shortly after Petito disappeared.
The FBI raided the home last month and has returned at least two other times.
Authorities have also checked out hundreds of tips and alleged sightings that put the fugitive as far away as the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina — but have focused the search at the Florida reserve.
Reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter has also joined in on the search, saying he believes the missing man is still alive because he’s a “survivalist.”
In his statement Wednesday, Bertolino addressed widespread claims that Brian Laundrie was a hardened outdoorsman able to survive in the wild for long periods of time.
“I don’t know who put the term ‘survivalist’ out there,” Bertolino said. “Brian is a hiker. He’s a camper. I don’t think it goes beyond that.”
Additional reporting by Jack Morphet