Police Poke Holes in 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Claim About Brian Laundrie Campsite Discovery
North Port, Florida police were surveilling Brian Laundrie as much as they legally could before he disappeared, a police spokesperson told CNN on Thursday. Laundrie is a person of interest in the death of Gabby Petito, whose remains were found in Wyoming on Sept. 19. Laundrie has not been seen since Sept. 14 and was reported missing on Sept. 17. Reality TV star Duane "Dog" Chapman has claimed he found a fresh campsite that could have been used by Laundrie, but police told CNN Thursday no campsite was found.
Petito and Laundrie were driving across the country from New York to the West Coast this summer. Petito was last seen in late August, and her parents reported her missing on Sept. 11. On Sept. 1, Laundrie arrived at his parents' North Port home without Petito. Police never spoke with Laundrie before he disappeared, although they were surveilling him, police spokesperson Josh Taylor told CNN. They did visit his parents' home on Sept. 11, they did not see him or speak to him, Taylor said.
Authorities do not have Petito or Laundrie's phones, as they were not in the van he drove back to Florida, Taylor explained. Investigators also have not found a campsite during their search of a Florida nature reserve for Laundrie, which seems to contradict Chapman's belief that the fresh campsites he found have anything to do with Laundrie. Still, one source close to the Laundrie family told CNN they were told a campsite was found.
"Is it possible that they thought that there might be a campsite out there or something they may have seen from the air but when they got on the ground that's not what it turned out to be? Sure, I think that's a possibility," Taylor told CNN. "Bottom line, is that investigators are telling me that no campsite was found out there."
Laundrie's father, Chris Laundrie, visited the reserve where the search is ongoing to help, the Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino told CNN. Chris showed police locations where he and his son often visited, Bertolino said, but there were no discoveries. "It seems the water in the Preserve is receding and certain areas are more accessible to search. The entire Laundrie family is grateful for the hard work of the dedicated members of law enforcement that have been searching the Preserve for Brian over the last few weeks," Bertolino said. "Hopefully Brian will be located soon."
While police haven't found Laundrie, there have been some helpful discoveries recently. North Police police said they found an abandoned Ford Mustang belonging to Laundrie's family outside the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, an entrance to the Carlton Reserve, on Sept. 14. After speaking with the FBI, Bertolino said they believe Laundrie left to hike in the preserve on Sept. 13, a day before Laundrie's parents previously said Laundrie left. They still believe Laundrie could be in the preserve.
There is a warrant out for Laundrie's arrest, but not for Petito's death. A federal court in Wyoming indicted Laundrie on alleged debit card fraud for using a card that did not belong to him between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1. Petito's parents, Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, appeared on Dr. Phil this week with her stepfather, Jim Schmidt, who all said they hope Laundrie is still alive so he could spend his life behind bars if convicted. "I want to see him in a jail cell for the rest of his life where -- he's an outdoorsman -- being in that concrete cell and he can't go see those trees and hug -- and smell the fresh air like that," Joe Petito said.