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Gabby Petito: Police not looking to get Brian Laundrie alive, says legal expert

'They had cadaver dogs... divers and sonar. They aren't looking in places where people will be camping,' said criminal defense lawyer Philip Holloway
UPDATED SEP 24, 2021
The manhunt for Brian Laundrie intensified after Gabby Petito's body was found (Instagram)
The manhunt for Brian Laundrie intensified after Gabby Petito's body was found (Instagram)

A criminal defense attorney has claimed that police are "not looking to recover Brian Laundrie alive” as search operations for Gabby Petito’s boyfriend intensifies. The 23-year-old man has been missing for over a week. However, September 23, Thursday, was Day 5 of the search operations to locate Laundrie.  Authorities looked for him in the Carlton Reserve in Florida with the help of drones, heavy machinery, and other high-tech equipment.

Commenting on the manhunt for Laundrie, who is a person of interest in Gabby's case, Philip Holloway told Fox News, “The very fact that they are searching in a swamp in Florida — filled with alligators and snakes and other creatures is not a place that's hospitable to human life. The fact they had cadaver dogs in their yesterday and divers and sonar. They aren't looking in places where people will be camping.”


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He continued: “If you look at what they're doing and how they are searching, trace, it tells me that they are not looking to recover Brian Laundrie alive. Most people are incapable of functioning in the world for very long without leaving some evidence of their very existence,” before adding that the prosecutions “will depend on the answers that law enforcement gets from interviewing third parties.” He explained that investigators have to “see if there is anybody else who may have helped perpetrate any crimes or conceal any crimes”.

Brian was reported missing by his parents on September 14, a day before he was named the person of interest in the case. Authorities started searching for him after human remains (that matched Gabby Petito's description) was found inside a national park in Wyoming on September 19. Her death was ruled a homicide after the autopsy and Brian Laundrie's home declared a "crime scene".

A spokesman for North Port Police, Josh Taylor, described the Carlton Reserve as “a vast and unforgiving” territory. He stated, “It is currently waist-deep in water in many areas. It is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake-infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.” 

The official identification of Gabby Petito’s dead body was done on September 21. The FBI said in a statement, “Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999. Coroner Blue’s initial determination for the manner of death is homicide. The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results.” 

The 22-year-old vlogger was on a cross-country trip with Brian Laundrie in a converted van. But she was reported missing by her family on September 11 after they did not hear from her for several days. In addition, Brian returned to his North Port, Florida home at the beginning of September without her. He then ignored Gabby’s family who asked him about their daughter’s whereabouts. 

The young woman’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, earlier told “I texted Brian's mom that I was trying to get in touch with Gabby. I also texted Brian. I got no replies. I knew something was wrong. I felt something was off and I needed to get her reported missing immediately.” The heartbroken mother had also added: “If they cared about her, they would want to find her. Why aren't you out helping find her? I don't want to seem accusatory. It's confusing, my mind is turning right now."