About 75 staff from 16 agencies were on the ground Thursday, North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor said. He said the FBI is leading the investigation and local police “are helping our federal partner in any way they can to bring this investigation to a close.”
A scuba diving team arrived at the Carlton Reserve on Wednesday. The team originates from the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office and is called the Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Force, a team of “highly trained underwater specialists” who are “called upon to search for evidence of crimes and victims of drowning, water accidents and criminal acts “. said the sheriff’s office website.
Laundrie returned home to her parents in Florida without her on September 1, police said. Petito was reported missing by his parents on September 11. A coroner confirmed on Tuesday that the remains found Sunday in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming are those of Petito.
Meanwhile, Laundrie’s family told police on Friday evening that they had not seen him since September 14.
Laundrie had refused to speak to police about Petito’s whereabouts before he disappeared, authorities said.
CNN spoke to several experts in law enforcement and search and rescue efforts to understand the challenges of trying to locate Laundrie. Here is what they said.
Laundromat was ahead of the game by several days
North Port Police focused their research on the wilderness of the Carlton Preserve, relying on drones for the video and sleuths who used Laundrie’s clothes to get her scent, Taylor said.
Police said on Monday they had shifted the focus of their search and were no longer looking for laundry in the nature reserve. “At the moment, we currently believe that we have exhausted all possibilities of finding land there,” Taylor said.
“Please note that the Carlton Preserve is a vast and unforgiving place at times. It is currently (waist deep) deep in the water in many areas,” police said. “It’s dangerous work for search teams as they wade through alligator and snake infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.”
Before disappearing, Laundrie was at his home in North Port for about two weeks.
Cheryl Dorsey, a retired Los Angeles police sergeant, told CNN on Monday that she was curious why Laundrie’s parents had not alerted authorities to her departure.
“I understand he’s a grown man,” Dorsey said, adding that he was only in his twenties. “What influence, if any, do (his parents) have over him? He decides to go backpacking and they couldn’t stop him? “
Nature searches are difficult
But when it comes to people escaping authorities, the search becomes much more difficult. An evasive person more than likely wears clothes that help them blend in with their surroundings, Boyer said. In order to avoid being seen by helicopters or drones, a person can also crawl through the bed of the streams and avoid leaving any traces – such as footprints, garbage, or evidence of a fire.
Boyer said technologies such as night vision goggles, drones and thermal sensors could help locate a person.
Boyer said trying to find a person in the wild can be very difficult.
“It’s really hard to find people, even when they want to be found,” he told CNN on Monday.
What makes it difficult to find Laundrie, however, is how far he could have already traveled before authorities started looking for him.
“The search area begins to expand every hour it can be by car or on foot,” Boyer said. “It’s getting pretty intimidating, to be honest.”
Boyer told CNN on Thursday that conditions on the Carlton reserve are very difficult. About 75% of the reserve is covered with non-potable water, and there are alligators, snakes, and insects. The laundry also has to be concerned about heat, humidity and sun exposure, Boyer said.
“If he’s there, he’s found a dry place and put up some sort of shelter,” Boyer said via text message, adding that in order to keep Laundrie hydrated he would need a filter. “He couldn’t carry enough water with him to last 7 days.”
Federal arrest warrant issued against laundry
The indictment says he used these accounts to charge more than $ 1,000 in commerce after Petito’s death which affected interstate commerce. Laundrie did this “knowingly and with intent to defraud,” according to the indictment released Thursday.
A lawyer for Laundrie’s family stressed in a statement that an arrest warrant did not relate to Petito’s death but was linked to activities that took place afterwards.
The FBI executed a search warrant on Monday at the home of parents in Laundrie, where he lived with Petito.
The FBI removed Christopher and Roberta Laundrie from the house, executed the search warrant, and then brought them back inside for questioning, Taylor said.
Police attended the home last week, but the family refused to speak and instead gave authorities their attorney’s information, Taylor said.
“We think he’s probably one of the last people to see Gabby Petito alive, and for that reason he’s a very important witness,” said Andrew McCabe, senior law enforcement analyst at CNN. and former deputy director of the FBI.
Before disappearing, Laundrie was silent about Petito’s disappearance. North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison told CNN’s Don Lemon last week that Laundrie invoked his Fifth Amendment right, which usually means that a person cannot be forced to make statements that ‘she deems negative or used against it.
Steve Moore, a retired FBI surveillance special agent, told CNN that in order to obtain a search warrant, authorities would have to have the probable cause that there had been a crime and that the person at the house was involved in it. The crime.
“What I believe law enforcement people are doing right now is making sure they have all the t’s crossed out and I’m dotted because I think they believe – and I think – they know who did that and they want to make sure their case is perfect at this point, “Moore said.
CNN’s Andy Rose, Dakin Andone, Travis Caldwell, Eric Levenson, Jenn Selva and Alta Spells contributed to this report.