TAMPA, Fla. - Three weeks into the search for Brian Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve, the father of the only person of interest named in the disappearance and death of Gabby Petito has begun actively helping in the effort to find his son.
Christopher Laundrie went to the nature park for a few hours Thursday, at the request of investigators according to the Laundrie family attorney, so he could point search crews toward Brian's favorite spots to hike and camp.
Former FBI investigator Stacy Audra says this development in the case could prove helpful in finding clues about Brian Laundrie’s location.
"If there is a campsite they are particularly looking at, he would probably have a good idea of which trails they would use to get to that campsite and where those trails would potentially lead," said Audra. "He may be a little bit more forthcoming while he is out there actually searching and the gravity of the situation starts to set in."
Audra says small details could lead to big clues.
"The attorney put out a statement, a few days later the attorney put out another statement and it contradicts the initial statement, so hopefully we can all get on the same page so we can get that timeline really nailed down as to when he left, where he could’ve gone, and hopefully find him," she said, referring to the change in timeline Brian's parents gave investigators about when their son left for the reserve.
On Friday, September 17 – nearly a week after Brian's fiance Gabby Petito was reported missing, and 17 days after Brian had returned to his family home in North Port from Wyoming in Gabby's van – Christopher and Roberta Laundrie called law enforcement to their home to reveal they hadn't seen Brian and were concerned about his wellbeing.
At the time, the Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, said Brian Laundrie left the home of his parents in his silver Ford Mustang on Tuesday, Sept. 14 and that Brian's parents retrieved the Mustang from a parking area at Carlton Reserve on Thursday, Sept. 16.arr
Several weeks later, Bertolino released a statement saying Brian actually left Monday, Sept. 13 and his car was brought home Wednesday, Sept. 15.
"Upon further communication with the FBI and confirmation of the Mustang being at the Laundrie residence on Wednesday, September 15, we now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday, September 13," the statement said.
After Gabby was reported missing on Sept. 11, and even after they reported their son missing on Sept. 17, the Laundries have largely remained silent as investigators searched the 25,000-acre reserve for their son.
Audra hopes the change in their involvement will lead to answers. No matter what, she says she is confident this investigation will come to fruition.
Investigators are still asking the public for help in locating Brian. They say he is a white male, 5-foot-8 and weighing 160 pounds. He has brown eyes, very short brown hair, trimmed facial hair, and was last seen wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap.
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI.