Gabby Petito case: FBI obtains cellphone in Brian Laundrie search

Gabby Petito Case

NORTH PORT, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — The search for Gabby Petito’s missing boyfriend continued Thursday as the FBI obtained a cellphone belonging to Brian Laundrie.

In recent days, the focus of the investigation shifted into figuring out what exactly Laundrie did from the time he returned to Florida without Petito on Sept. 1 until he was reported missing.

Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, confirmed to NewsNationNow.com reporter Brian Entin that Brian Laundrie purchased a phone after coming home from the road trip and the FBI now has that phone.

“I can confirm that a phone was purchased on September 4, 2021 and Brian opened an account with AT&T for that phone. (Not a burner.)” Bertolino said in a text to Entin. “Brian left that phone at home the day he went for a hike in the preserve on September 14, 2021 and the FBI now has that phone.”

Bertolino told Entin he did not know where Laundrie’s previous phone is.

The FBI arrived at the Laundrie family house Thursday afternoon. NewsNation reporter Brian Entin reported that the FBI went into the truck bed camper parked in the Laundrie’s driveway. Bertolino said the FBI came to the Laundrie home to collect personal items belonging to Laundrie to assist the canines in their search.

According to his parents, Laundrie was last seen Sept. 14, entering the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Florida, but he was not reported missing until a few days later. Investigators had focused intently on the area after Laundrie’s parents told police he may have gone there. 

Another search, by Duane Chapman — known as Dog the Bounty Hunter — is being conducted in Fort De Soto Campground in Pinellas County, Florida.

A public records request from Pinellas County revealed that Laundrie’s mother, Roberta Laundrie, checked into a campground at Fort De Soto Park in the days between Laundrie arriving home and Petito being reported missing. The campground is about 75 miles away from the Laundrie family home in North Port, Florida.

Chapman said he has received tips indicating Brian Laundrie could be inside the park. The search is ongoing. NewsNation confirmed that the FBI has surveillance video from the campground. 

The FBI issued an arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie over a week ago. He is wanted for “use of unauthorized access device” related to his activities following Petito’s death. The FBI says he used a debit card and a PIN to access two bank accounts Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.

Petito vanished while on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie in a converted camper van. The trip was well-documented on social media until it abruptly ceased, allegedly somewhere in Wyoming. Petito, 22, was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days. Her body was discovered days later at Grand Teton National Park.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

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