By Dan Whitcomb
Florida police and the FBI were searching for the fiance of missing Blue Point woman Gabby Petito on Friday, after his family told investigators they had not seen him in three days.
The disappearance of Brian Laundrie, 23, may further complicate the search for Petito, who was reported missing on Sept. 11, 10 days after he returned home from a cross-country road-trip without her.
“The attorney for the Laundrie family called FBI investigators Friday night indicating the family would like to talk about the disappearance of their son,” Josh Taylor of the North Port Police Department said in a written statement. “The family now claims that they have not seen Brian since Tuesday of this week.”
Taylor had said one day before on Thursday that police knew where Laundrie was despite the fact that Laundrie, who lived with Petito, 22, in North Port, roughly 70 miles south of St. Petersburg on Florida’s west coast, has refused to speak with investigators.
North Port police have labeled him a “person of interest” in the high-profile disappearance, which has made headlines even as police say they have no solid evidence that a crime has been committed.
Police officers and FBI agents were seen at the Laundrie home on Friday, searching a silver Ford Mustang parked in the driveway as several dozen protesters gathered outside demanded that he be arrested.
Authorities were sharply criticized by members of the community after acknowledging that they no longer knew of Laundrie’s whereabouts.
“We understand the community’s frustration, we are frustrated too,” Taylor said in the statement.
“For six days, the North Port Police Department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian’s Fiancé Gabby Petito,” he said. “Friday is the first time they have spoken with investigators in detail.”
Laundrie’s attorney has defended his client’s silence, saying that anything he told police could be used against him later, “regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito’s disappearance.”
An attorney for the Petito family issued a statement in response to the news.
“All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding,” the statement read. “Gabby is missing.”
Petito and Laundrie left from New York in June on their road trip, heading west in a white van planning to visiting national parks along the way and documenting the trip on social media.
Petito posted her last photo on Aug. 25. Her family believes she was headed to headed to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming when they last heard from her.
She was last seen leaving a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
-With Timothy Bolger