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Newly Abandoned Campsite Discovered in Florida Reserve as Father Joins Search for Brian Laundrie

People logo People 10/7/2021 Chris Harris
gabby petito/ instagram © Provided by People gabby petito/ instagram

The remnants of a freshly abandoned campsite were recently found by authorities scouring a Florida preserve for Brian Laundrie, the 23-year-old fugitive who vanished days before his former fiancée Gabby Petito's body was found in Wyoming.

"Chris Laundrie is assisting Law Enforcement today in the search for Brian," according to attorney Steven Bertolino © gabby petito/ instagram "Chris Laundrie is assisting Law Enforcement today in the search for Brian," according to attorney Steven Bertolino

An unnamed source with ties to the investigation told CNN about the discovery of traces of a campsite inside the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre nature preserve consisting primarily of swampy wetlands.

The source did not say when the campsite was located, or whether authorities believe the site may have been used by Laundrie.

The missing man has not been seen since Sept. 13, when he allegedly told his parents he was headed to the reserve to hike.

Petito, the woman he was engaged to, was reported missing Sept. 11.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie Flew Home to Florida During Cross-Country Trip with Gabby Petito

Word of the vacated campsite's discovery comes as Laundrie's father, Chris, joins the search for his missing son — at the behest of investigators.

"Chris Laundrie is assisting Law Enforcement today in the search for Brian," reads a statement from the Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino. "Chris was asked to point out any favorite trails or spots that Brian may have used in the preserve."

The statement adds that, while Laundrie's parents "provided this information verbally three weeks ago, it is now thought that on-site assistance may be better. The preserve has been closed to the public and the Laundries as well, but the parents have been cooperating since the search began."

RELATED: Brian Laundrie's Sister Responds, 'I Don't Know' When Asked if Brother Killed Gabby Petito

On Sept. 1, less than two months after setting out on a cross-country trip with Petito, Laundrie returned to his parents' home in North Port, Fla., without her.

The body of the murdered 22-year-old Long Island, N.Y., woman was found at a remote campsite in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Officials have deemed her death a homicide, but have yet to reveal how Petito was killed.

Investigators believe Petito was killed sometime between Aug. 27 and Aug. 30.

Authorities have been searching for Laundrie for weeks now. He is considered a fugitive from justice after the Sept. 23 issuance of an arrest warrant for alleged unauthorized use of a debit card. 

Laundrie also remains a person of interest in Petito's case, but has not been named a suspect in her homicide.

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Prior to vanishing, Laundrie had refused to meet with detectives handling Petito's disappearance.

Five days after returning to Florida alone, Laundrie went camping with his family at Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde, Fla.

RELATED: 'They Always Had Some Drama': Friends Reflect on Romance Between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie

Two weeks before she went missing, Petito and Laundrie were involved in an incident that led to eyewitnesses calling 911. Police in Moab City responded, and their interactions with the couple were recorded by body cameras.

Police believe the relationship between Petito and Laundrie became more strained during their tragic road trip, according to unsealed search warrant connected to the case.

Petito's best friend, Rose Davis, tells PEOPLE the couple's relationship was "toxic," and that Laundrie's jealousy led to numerous fights between the two.

If you have information pertinent to this case, call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).


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