TAMPA, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — A handful of protesters gathered outside Brian Laundrie’s Florida home Monday, sounding airhorns and yelling “Justice for Gabby!” as the manhunt for the boyfriend of Gabby Petito continued.
Protesters gathered outside the North Port, Florida home where Petito lived with Laundrie and his parents before her disappearance. Those in the group yelled, “Where is she?” and, “Tell us what happened to Gabby!” specifically addressing Laundrie’s parents.
The Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, sent this text message to NewsNationNow.com Monday evening:
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is. They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him. The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong.”steven bertolino
The FBI issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie last week. Laundrie is wanted for “use of unauthorized access device” related to his activities following Petito’s death. The FBI says Laundrie 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. The couple documented most of their trip, which started in July, on a YouTube Vlog called “VAN LIFE”. The last posts to both their Instagram accounts were from Grand Teton National Park.
Petito, 22, was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days while the couple visited parks in the West. Her body was discovered days later at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Teton County Coroner Brent Blue classified Petito’s death as a homicide — meaning her death was caused by another person — but did not disclose how she was killed pending further autopsy results. Laundrie, 23, has not been charged in relation to her death but has been considered a person of interest in her disappearance.
Laundrie was seen nearly two weeks ago entering the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve but 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. The search for Laundrie is still underway.
The outdoors search includes thousands of acres of forbidding, swampy subtropical terrain replete with alligators, snakes, bobcats, coyotes, turkey, deer and many other wild creatures. There are more than 100 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, plus numerous camping areas and rivers.
North Port authorities Monday said the FBI was now officially leading the search for Laundrie inside the reserve.
Police told NewsNationNow.com reporter Brian Entin that the search in Carlton Reserve “will be scaled back and targeted based on intelligence. Hopefully, water will lower in areas hard to currently access.”
Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts who met while growing up on New York’s Long Island. His parents later moved to North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota. A memorial service was held for Petito in Long Island Sunday.
“I want you to take a look at these pictures and I want you to be inspired by them. If there’s a trip you want to take, take it. Now. Do it now while you’ve got the time. If there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it now,” Petito’s father, Joseph Petito said. “Gabby is the most amazing person I’ve ever met. I’m asking you guys to be inspired by the way she treated people, all people.”
NewsNation affiliates WFLA, KTXL and the Associated Press contributed to this report.