NORTH PORT, Fla. (AP) – Authorities on Tuesday renewed their search in an area of swamp reserve near the home of the boyfriend wanted for questioning in the death of Gabby Petito, 22, whose body was discovered in a national park from Wyoming months after the duo left for a road trip across the country.
North Port, Florida police said Tuesday morning that investigators returned to the Carlton reserve to search for Brian Laundrie, 23.
Investigators searched the 24,000-acre (9,700-hectare) Florida Nature Preserve over the weekend without success. They focused on the area after Laundrie’s parents told police he may have been there.
Authorities use helicopters, drones, dogs and officers in all-terrain vehicles in their search for laundry. About 75% of the search area is underwater.
On Monday, the FBI visited Laundrie’s parents’ home in North Port and removed several boxes and towed a car neighbors said Laundrie’s mother typically used.
Laundrie and Petito lived with her parents at the North Port home before the road trip in which she died.
The young couple had left in July in a converted van to visit the national parks of the West. They argued along the way and Laundrie was alone when he got into the van at his parents’ house on September 1, police said.
In Wyoming, the FBI announced on Sunday that officers discovered a body outside Grand Teton National Park, which the couple had visited. No details on the cause of death have been released. An autopsy has been set for Tuesday.
“Full forensic identification has not been done to 100% confirm that we have found Gabby, but her family has been notified,” FBI agent Charles Jones said.
Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the case, but it is not known where he is in recent days.
Petito’s father, Joseph, posted on social media an image of a broken heart above a photo of his daughter, with the message: “She touched the world.
In an interview aired Monday on “Dr. Phil” television, Joseph Petito said that Laundrie and his daughter had been dating for two and a half years, and Laundrie was “always respectful.” During the interview, which was recorded Before his daughter’s body was found, Petito said the couple had already taken a road trip to California in his car and there had been no issues.
Joseph Petito said the family started to worry after several days without news of their daughter.
“We called Brian, we called the mother, we called the father, we called the sister, we called all the numbers we could find,” said Joseph Petito. “No phone calls were taken, no text messages were returned.”
Joseph Petito has said he wants Laundrie to be held accountable for the role he played in his daughter’s disappearance, as well as his family for her protection.
“I hope they understand what is coming, and that includes his parents,” said Joseph Petito. “,
The FBI said investigators were seeking information from anyone who might have seen the couple around Grand Teton.
Gabby Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts who met growing up on Long Island, New York. His parents then moved to North Port, about 55 kilometers south of Sarasota.
A man who saw Petito and Laundrie fighting in Moab, Utah on August 12, called 911 to report a domestic violence incident, according to a recording of the call obtained from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office . The man said he saw Laundrie slap Petito as he walked through town and hit her before the two got into their van and drove off.
Video released by Moab Police showed an officer stopped the couple’s van the same day after it was seen speeding up and hitting a sidewalk near Arches National Park. Body camera images showed an upset Petito.
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Laundrie said on video the couple got into a fight after getting into the van with dirty feet. He said he did not want to pursue a domestic violence charge against Petito, whose officers decided he was the abuser.
Moab police separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking in at a motel and Petito staying with the van.
In the footage, Gabby Petito cried as she told the officer that she and Laundrie had argued about her over-cleaning the van. She told the officer that she suffered from OCD, an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
On “Dr. Phil,” his father said, that was not literally true. She just likes to keep her living space tidy and used slang, he said.
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