‘Chris Laundrie was asked to assist law enforcement in their search,’ attorney Steve Bertolino said Wednesday
Florida fugitive Brian Laundrie’s attorney said Wednesday that Christopher Laundrie would begin assisting authorities in the search for his son – who was last seen on Sept. 13, just days after his fiancée Gabby Petito officially became a missing person.
The FBI later uncovered Petito’s remains at a remote Wyoming campsite on Sept. 19.
“Chris Laundrie was asked to assist law enforcement in their search for Brian at the preserve today,” Steve Bertolino, the family’s attorney, told Fox News Wednesday night. “Since the preserve has been closed to the public, Chris has not been able to look for Brian in the only place Chris and Roberta believe Brian may be.”
He added that North Port police “had to postpone” the elder’s Laundrie’s participation and that he did not take part in the search Wednesday, which saw an increased police presence after resources appeared to have been drawn down over the weekend.
“Chris and Roberta are hopeful there will be another opportunity to assist,” he added, referring to both of Brian Laundrie’s parents.
Josh Taylor, the North Port Police Department’s chief spokesman, told Fox News that his department did not ask for Chris Laundrie’s involvement – nor did police “postpone” it.
“In no world would we be the agency asking the family to help search in an FBI led investigation,” he said, deferring further questions to the FBI, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He also declined to discuss whether North Port police had invited Chris Laundrie to join the search prior to the FBI taking over the case.
Pat Diaz, a former Miami-Dade homicide detective who also served on FBI task forces, said he doubted federal investigators would bring in a suspect’s father to help their search.
“They may have found stuff in the reserve for the father to identify,” he said. “Not a body, but belongings.”
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Bertolino later clarified that the request “perhaps” came from “a liaison to FBI.”
“My statement is correct,” he said.
Earlier, he told Newsday that Chris Laundrie was “excited” to take part in the search – after weeks of remaining completely mum on the subject and barely leaving his home.
He also claimed that the elder Laundrie searched the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Reserve on his own on Monday, Sept. 13 after his son failed to come home that night – even though the parents told police that Friday that they had last seen their son on Tuesday, according to the paper.
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“The North Port police informed me that they were focusing on certain areas of the preserve today and they were actually hoping that Mr. Laundrie could join them on that search,” Bertolino told the newspaper. “Mr. Laundrie has consented and we are waiting for the call from the North Port Police Department to make that happen.”
Brian Laundrie had been named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance days before authorities found her dead. On Sept. 23, the FBI announced a federal warrant for bank fraud charges after he allegedly used someone else’s debit card without authorization for more than $1,000.
His whereabouts remained unknown as of Wednesday evening – but a search at the reserve has continued for weeks, even with reports of possible sightings in other parts of Florida and along the Appalachian Trail where it runs down the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.