Manhunt for Brian Laundrie in Florida wetlands scaled back; FBI collects items for 'DNA matching'

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The manhunt for Brian Laundrie in a Florida nature reserve will be scaled back this week, days after a county coroner said Laundrie's fiancee, Gabby Petito, died by homicide.

The FBI is now leading the search that will be "targeted based on intelligence," North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor said Monday.

More than 75 law enforcement personnel from 16 agencies joined the search last week in the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County after the FBI issued a federal arrest warrant over events after Petito's death. Authorities used a diver unit, dogs, drones and ATV vehicles to search the wetlands.

"I don’t think you’re going to see those large-scale types of efforts this week," Taylor told USA TODAY. "Hopefully, water will lower in areas hard to currently access."

The park includes thousands of acres of swampy, subtropical terrain and wildlife including alligators, snakes, bobcats and coyotes. There's more than 100 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, along with camping areas and rivers.

On Sunday, FBI agents visited Laundrie's home and asked his parents for some of their son's personal items to help with "DNA matching," the family's lawyer told NBC News and Fox News. The lawyer did not immediately confirm the visit to USA TODAY. The FBI field office in Denver, which is leading the investigation, would not comment on the case.

Laundrie was last seen nearly two weeks ago when he told his parents he was going hiking in Carlton Reserve after returning home on Sept. 1 without Petito from a cross-country trip to national parks.

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The couple's trip, which was documented on social media as a romantic adventure, began in July and was set to end in Oregon next month. After Laundrie returned home alone, investigators say he refused to share crucial information with them.

Petito's body was then found at a campground near Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Laundrie is considered a person of interest in Petito's homicide but has not been charged.

Laundrie has been indicted on charges of unauthorized use of a Capital One debit card and several accounts involving more than $1,000, according to documents released Thursday by the U.S. District of Wyoming. The indictment also charges Laundrie with unauthorized access of a device and says he used the bank accounts without permission from about Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.

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This Aug. 12, 2021, photo from video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park.
This Aug. 12, 2021, photo from video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park.

Meanwhile, TV personality Duane Lee Chapman, also known as "Dog the Bounty Hunter," joined the search and promised to find Laundrie before his 24th birthday on Nov. 18. A law firm has offered a $20,000 reward for information that leads directly to Laundrie.

John Walsh, a victims’ advocate and the former host of the TV show "America's Most Wanted," is also searching for Laundrie and soliciting tips from the public.

As investigators searched for Laundrie, mourners gathered Sunday in New York to celebrate Petito's life. Her funeral was in Holbrook, New York, near the Bayport-Blue Point community where Petito grew up.

Petito's father, Joseph, told the crowd at the funeral home that the day was about remembering his daughter, not the sadness of her death, NBC New York reported.

"When you leave here today, be inspired by what she brought to the table, because the entire planet knows this woman's name now. And she's inspired a lot of women and a lot of men to do what's best for them first," he said. "I couldn't be more proud as a father."

Contributing: John Bacon and Grace Hauck, USA TODAY

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brian Laundrie update: Florida search scaled back after Petito funeral