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Police use drones to search for Petito boyfriend in ‘gator and snake-infested’ Florida swamp

Drones and dogs deployed to assist in ‘dangerous work’ of searching through waist-deep water for Brian Laundrie

Bevan Hurley
In New York
Tuesday 21 September 2021 20:03 BST
Gabby Petito investigation: 911 call reveals Brian Laundrie seen hitting, 'slapping' her before disappearance

Law enforcement agencies are using drones and all-terrain vehicles to search a “vast and unforgiving” nature reserve near the Florida home of Brian Laundrie.

Officers from several police departments were joined by the FBI and specialist dog units as they hunted for Mr Laundrie, who told his parents he was going hiking in the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County a week ago and hasn’t been seen since.

The search operation resumed early on Tuesday after a multi-agency manhunt over the weekend failed to turn up any trace of Mr Laundrie.

“A weekend ground search and aerial search Monday of the 25,000-acre reserve has yet to yield any answers, but we must press on,” North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor said.

Large parts of the reserve are under water, and packed with dangerous wildlife, Mr Taylor added.

“Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. It is currently waist-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.”

Mr Taylor posted several videos of the search to Twitter, showing the vast expanse of the reserve and its challenging terrain.

Law enforcement has put in place a flight restriction over the Carlton Reserve on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he had directed all state agencies under his purview to assist federal and local law enforcement as they continue to search.

“We need justice for Gabby Petito,” he said in a post on Twitter.

Mr Laundrie left his family home last Tuesday, telling his parents he was going hiking in the Carlton Reserve, and hasn’t been seen since.

He was reported missing on Friday after police went to his house to speak to his parents.

His Ford Mustang car was found parked near the reserve was later driven back to his parents home, before being seized by police.

FBI agents and North Port Police executed a search warrant on the Laundrie family home on Monday.

Investigators are resuming their search for Brian Laundrie (Instagram)

The 23-year-old was last week named a “person of interest” in the disappearance of his girlfriend Gabby Petito during a cross-country ‘van-life’ tour.

Remains believed to belong to Ms Petito were found in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sunday. An autopsy is expected to be completed on Tuesday.

The search will be conducted by several law enforcement agencies including the FBI, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota Police Department, Venice Police Department and K9 search and rescue teams, Mr Taylor said.

Authorities have broadened their search for Mr Laundrie across several states.

There were several unconfirmed sightings of Mr Laundrie in Alabama in the last few days.

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