Search becomes smaller on Saturday for Brian Laundrie at Carlton Reserve

A smaller group of law enforcement officials returned to the Carlton Reserve on Saturday to search for Brian Laundrie, according to the North Port Police Department. This was nearly a week after finding Gabby Petito’s body.

As of 11:30 a.m., it did not appear the search had resumed, but a City of North Port spokesman confirmed a small team is searching areas of more likelihood. This also meant a scaled-down search.

On Saturday evening, WINK News received drone video from the search of the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County.

Laundrie is wanted for unauthorized use of a debit card in connection with Gabby Petito’s death.

On Friday, police officers responded to the Laundrie home after an unknown person reported a shots fired call there. However, police found nothing.

Taylor said the call would be investigated to see if it was a case of “swatting,” a prank call that brings a large number of police officers to a particular address.

Saturday will be the seventh-day searchers look for 23-year-old Laundrie. An arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie on Thursday.

A search for Brian Laundrie is expected to continue at the Carlton Reserve on Saturday. (CREDIT: North Port Police Department)

“From our personnel standpoint, I would say we are working this case instead of other things,” Taylor said. “That has an impact of course.”

While the department has not tallied up the cost of search, Taylor said overtime for officers will be a factor as well as the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance, too.

But the community has stepped up.

“Almost every meal we’ve had at the PD has been made by family or donated,” Taylor said. “Every meal for those working out in the field has been donated by generous citizens and businesses. We have a special community.”

Wildlife tour guide Jamie Hooks has been searching the swamp for any clues. Hooks is familiar with the nearly 70 miles of the Myakka River near the Carlton Reserve.

He also wants to help bring closure to the case.

“He ain’t used to those woods out there,” Hooks said of Laundrie. “They are very wet. Not a whole lot to eat. Right now it’s not real safe because some of the areas as a hotspot have a high concentration of gators.”

Hooks didn’t come across anything that could be linked to Laundrie.

Crews have been searching the reserve 12 hours a day in full gear.

Joe Fussell, North Port Police Department Commander, said the arrest warrant issued for Laundrie on Thursday does nothing to change the search for his team.

Fussell said they have been working just as hard to find him since day one.

“We’re covering this area as well as we can,” Fussell said. “These guys are working really hard. They come here every day ready to go. It’s hot, it’s hot. it’s wet out there but theyre working really hard.”

As the search continues in Florida, family and friends are gathering in New York to remember 22-year-old Petito whose body was found on Sept. 19 in Grand Teton National Park.

Pictures of Gabby Petito and her boyfriend/fiance before her disappearance

Laundrie and Petito took a trip during the summer that spanned the country’s national parks in a converted camper van that belonged to Petito.

Family began to worry about Petito after not hearing from her during the first week of September.

Laundrie returned to his North Port home on Sept. 1 without Petito but still in the van the two shared. Meanwhile, Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11.

Her disappearance and the subsequent investigation has brought national media to North Port.

Petito was a blogger who was working to set up a website while documenting the couple’s travels. While the couple’s Instagram account portrayed the magic of travel, some point to police bodycam footage that showed the relationship was less than perfect and could have included domestic violence. 

One point of contention between the two was that Laundrie did not believe in what Petito was doing, she told police in Moab, Utah on Aug. 12 after a public fight led to a 911 call from a witness.

Just over a month later, her remains were recovered.

TIPS: If you have any information on the homicide of Gabby Petito or the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie, call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324) or you can submit a tip online at fbi.gov/tips.

Reporter:Andrea Guerrero
Emma Heaton
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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