Police are looking for the boyfriend of a missing woman on a road trip in the United States.
Agents in Florida said they were working with the FBI to locate Brian Laundrie, 23, a person of interest in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito.
North Port Police said Laundrie’s family told officers they had not seen him since Tuesday. Police said Friday night’s conversation was the first time they had discussed the case in detail with Laundrie’s family and that the reunion was held at the family’s request.
A family lawyer called FBI investigators and told them they wanted to talk about Laundrie’s disappearance, police said.
Laundrie and Petito, 22, left in July for a hike across the country in a converted van to visit national parks in the western United States. She was reported missing on September 11 by her family.
Investigators said Laundrie returned in the van to her parents’ home in North Port, Fla. On September 1. He was later identified as a person of interest in the case, which garnered a lot of media attention, in part due to Petito’s large number of Instagram followers.
“It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance, he is not wanted for a felony,” North Port Police said in a statement Friday. He added that the investigation was now a case of “several missing persons”.
Steven Bertolino, an attorney for Brian Laundrie, did not respond to a request for comment on Friday evening.
Earlier in the week, Petito’s family begged the Laundrie family to tell them where their son last saw her.
Petito and Laundrie met while growing up on Long Island. His parents then moved to North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota.
Police video released by the Moab Utah Police Department showed an officer stopped the van on August 12 after he was seen speeding up and hitting a sidewalk near the entrance to the Arches National Park. Body camera video showed an emotional Petito, who sat inside a police car while officers also questioned Laundrie.
Laundrie said on the video the couple got into a minor brawl that started when he got into the van with dirty feet, and said they did not want to pursue a domestic violence charge against Petito, which the officers decided to be the aggressor.
He told the police that he was not going to press charges because he loved her. “It was just a quarrel. Sorry, that must have gotten so public, ”Laundrie said on the video.
Moab Police decided not to lay any charges and instead separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking in at a motel and Petito staying with the converted van.
The official conversation with the family on Friday came shortly after North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison publicly expressed frustration over Brian Laundrie’s lack of help on Wednesday, begging Laundrie’s lawyer to organize a conversation.
“Two people went on a trip and one person came back! an earlier tweet from Police Chief Garrison said.
The couple intended to reach Oregon by Halloween, according to their social media accounts, but Petito disappeared after his last known contact with his family in late August from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the authorities announced.
Laundrie brought the van back to Florida on September 1 only, police said. Petito’s family filed a missing persons report last Saturday with police in Suffolk County, New York.
Petito’s parents issued a letter through their lawyer to Laundrie’s parents on Thursday, asking them to help investigators locate Petito.
Bertolino said the Laundrie family hoped for Petito’s safe return, but he asked them not to speak to investigators.