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Police find 'nothing' in fifth day of searching for Gabby Petito's fiance

Police find 'nothing' in fifth day of searching for Gabby Petito's fiance
Gabby Petito and her fiance Brian Laundrie left New York in July, heading west on what they called a "van life" trip.
PHOTO: Reuters

WASHINGTON - Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents called off a fifth day of searching for the fiance of slain travel blogger Gabby Petito in a Florida wilderness as darkness fell on Wednesday (Sept 22), saying they had still found no sign of the man whom they have called a "person of interest" in the case.

The effort to find Mr Brian Laundrie, 23, in the swampy Carlton Reserve will resume on Thursday, said North Port Police Department spokesman Josh Taylor, adding that so far there had been "nothing found".

The authorities have not said why they are convinced Mr Laundrie may still be in the alligator-infested reserve more than a week after he told family members he was headed there for a hike.

North Port police say the family did not report him missing for another three days.

The case has gripped Americans since Ms Petito, 22, was reported missing on Sept 11. Ten days earlier, Mr Laundrie had returned home to North Port without her from a cross-country road trip they chronicled in social media posts.

Ms Petito's body was discovered on Sunday in a remote area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming, less than 300m from where, on the evening of Aug 27, another pair of travel bloggers recorded on video what appeared to be the couple's white Ford Transit van parked along a dirt road.

In identifying her remains, the Teton County Coroner's Office ruled Ms Petito's death a homicide, but did not make the cause of her death public.

'Van life'

Ms Petito and Mr Laundrie left her home state of New York in July, heading west on what they called a "van life" trip, with plans to visit United States national parks and document the trip on social media.

Witnesses last saw Ms Petito on Aug 24 as she left a Salt Lake City hotel. She posted her final photo the next day.

Ms Petito's family believes she was headed to Grand Teton National Park when they last heard from her. Her body was found at the edge of the park, near the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping area.

On Monday, investigators served a search warrant on the Laundrie family home in Florida. They were seen loading cardboard boxes into a van and towing away a silver Ford Mustang.



In seeking the search warrants, investigators cited an Aug 27 text from Ms Petito's phone to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, which describes getting calls and voice messages from "Stan", Ms Petito's grandfather.

Ms Schmidt told investigators the text was odd because her daughter would not usually refer to her grandfather by his first name. Ms Petito's family has said a second text message that said only "no service in Yosemite" also seemed suspicious.

ALSO READ: Police to resume search of Florida wilderness for fiance of Gabby Petito

Last week, police in Moab, Utah, released body camera video of an Aug 12 encounter that two officers had with Ms Petito and Mr Laundrie during a traffic stop.

Ms Petito sobs in the video as she describes a quarrel with Mr Laundrie, and admits that she slapped him. The officers did not detain the couple but insisted they spend that night separately - Ms Petito in the van and Mr Laundrie at a hotel.

That same day, a caller told emergency dispatchers that he had seen Mr Laundrie slapping and hitting Ms Petito, according to audio of a 911 call released by police.

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