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Search for Brian Laundrie resumes at Carlton Reserve

The entrance to Carlton Reserve was blocked off by sheriff's deputies Tuesday morning
The entrance to Carlton Reserve was blocked off by sheriff's deputies Tuesday morning(WWSB-TV)
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 8:29 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2021 at 10:04 AM EDT
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NORTH PORT, Fla. (WWSB) - The search for the person of interest in the Gabrielle Petito case is resuming in Carlton Reserve Tuesday, the North Port Police Department says.

Brian Laundrie, Petito’s fiancé, returned to North Port alone when the couple’s well-documented cross-country trip abruptly ended. “Gabby,” as Petito was known, vanished, last seen at a national park in Wyoming in late August.

Laundrie returned by himself to his parents’ home in North Port Sept. 1 in Gabby’s van. The 22-year-old woman was soon declared missing. Laundrie was eventually named a person of interest in the case. On Sunday, remains of a woman were found in a remote area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and tentatively identified as Petito. Autopsy results are expected to be released soon.

Last Tuesday, Laundrie himself vanished and has become the subject of a manhunt. His parents say he left to go hiking at Carlton reserve and has not returned.

Officers from several area law enforcement agencies are converging on the Venice side of the 38-square-mile preserve, according to spokesman Josh Taylor. “This time, moving in from the Venice side of the area, along with adjoining lands. 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,” he said in a Tuesday morning email.

The North Port Police Department, along with Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida Wildlife Commission, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota Police Department, Venice Police Department, K9 search and rescue teams, and other government agencies are participating in the search, Taylor said. The FBI has taken over as the lead agency in the criminal investigation and North Port Police are assisting, Taylor said.

“Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. 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,” Taylor noted.

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