What is a geofence warrant? Brian Laundrie's phone location points to Carlton Reserve

A user on Twitter speculated there might have been some technological gadget found in the area

                            What is a geofence warrant? Brian Laundrie's phone location points to Carlton Reserve
Brian Laundrie was last known to have gone hiking in Florida's Carlton Reserve (Instagram: @bizarre_design_, Google street view)

After Gabby Petito's body was found at the Bridger Teton National Forest, speculations over her absconding fiance Brian Laundrie keeps growing. Among those seemingly contributing the most to the case are internet sleuths, who were able to piece together the location of where the then-missing vlogger's remains might be found, as well as running theories of where Laundrie might be allegedly hiding. As authorities keep going back to Florida's Carlton Reserve in search for Laundrie to the surprise of many, one Twitter user theorizes the reason behind repeated visits could be a geofence warrant.

Petito was reported missing after her family stopped hearing from her post suspicious messages around the end of August. She was on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie and never returned home, while her fiance made it back on September 1 and immediately lawyered up, refusing to cooperate with cops looking for Petito. Soon after the FBI and Jackson Police revealed remains believed to be Petito's had been recovered in the national forest, Laundrie's lawyer announced that he too had been missing for a few days. But as the fiance of the dead woman keeps popping up on deer cams and accidental Instagram lives, police searching the reserve incessantly has seemed odd to many.


Is Brian Laundrie hiding in Baker, Florida? Deer cam photos spark speculation

Horror plot thickens as Brian Laundrie seen scouting area where Gabby Petito's body was found

Gabby Petito was engaged to Brian Laundrie (L) (Instagram/Brian Laundrie)

What is a geofence warrant?

The repeated search, however, didn't seem odd to an anonymous Twitter user who goes by the name Steph, and who theorized that police might have obtained a geofence warrant in the area. Laundrie allegedly went hiking in the area with a backpack, said his family, who also claimed they haven't seen him since September 14. After calling off search for the missing 'person of interest' in Petito's death earlier on September 20, authorities returned to the scene in thee early hours of September 22. Twitter user Steph, who goes by the username @mndvqtd7rg, thinks it could be because of the unique warrant. 

According to Wikipedia, "A Geo-fence warrant (also known as a geofence warrant) is a search warrant issued by a court to allow law enforcement to search a database to find all active mobile devices within a particular geo-fence area." And Steph further explained in their tweet, "We keep wondering why they’re going back to the reserve. I think they picked something up on a geofence warrant. A phone in area of the reserve they believe might be his. Geofence warrants can pick up burners, ip, androids, some phones without service. #brianlaundrie #GabbyPetito"


They clarified this was just speculation and added, "Look up this type of warrant it accounts for A LOT of phone warrants in general." Twitter user Steph further explained that, "This type of warrant also lists phones without service — it can even list every email address used to log into the phones. I think they triangulated him there with this type of warrant. #BrianLaudrie #gabbypetito". They added: "In today’s world, you need technology power. I assume this is what they’re doing."




The thread continued: "It’s a reverse search. Takes a location and lists every active phone in area. If burner, they can trace the imei to store purchased and check against financial records." To that, another user suggested, "Maybe he left a phone there to throw them off." Agreeing, Steph reiterated: "That’s certainly possible. Something tech wise is leading them back to that reserve. It ain’t hearsay. #BrianLaundrie"




One user expressed doubt, replying: "I’m not sure how he would be able to stay off his tech. Unless he has a burner." Steph clarified, "A burner is still traceable!" One user also suggested, "He's probably using a solar powered charger." Others asked, "So can it pinpoint a specific location or a general area?" And Steph clarified, "General area but the location can be small."






If this is actually the case, it would be another big win for armchair detectives who have once again proven that their cause is not all lost. However, there's a downside to these warrants too. Law enforcements have been previously granted these type of warrants to collect information from databases such as Google's Sensorvault, which stores user history of all geo-location data through GPS records. These warrants have also led to major privacy and Fourth Amendment concerns after innocent people passing by crime scenes have been subjected to unjustified searches based on their GPS location.