A former FBI agent has said it’s possible that Brian Laundrie – the missing fiancé of van-life blogger Gabby Petito, whose death has been ruled a homicide – is receiving help to stay on the run.
Bryanna Fox, a former FBI special agent and professor of criminology at the University of South Florida, speculated that either a “fan” or someone in Mr Laundrie’s “inner circle” could be helping him find food and shelter.
Police have called Mr Laundrie a “person of interest” in the of Ms Petito. While police ruled her death a “homicide” after remains were found in Wyoming over the weekend, Mr Laundrie has not been accused of a crime. Mr Laundrie returned home without Ms Petito after the pair had been on a cross-country road trip together. He disappeared from his parent’s home and has been missing since 14 September. A major manhunt is underway in Florida’s Carlton Reserve to try and find him.
Appearing on Today, Ms Fox was asked what she would do to track Mr Laundrie down.
“There’s so much we can do as an investigator, including trying to preserve any kind of digital evidence that may help us understand where Brian’s going. People that he may be trying to stay with, visit, or may even be a fan of his Instagram account that may be trying to provide help to him.”
Ms Fox said it was likely there would be digital evidence that could help trace Mr Laundrie’s whereabouts, given that he had been missing for more than a week.
“Obviously for food and shelter you need to have credit cards or at least support through cash assistance from somebody, all of that leaves these digital trails.”
She added: “Being able to pull those financials or pull the digital communications either between Brian and a fan, or Brian and somebody who is willing to support him... this could probably be somebody in his inner circle. Not a lot of people would be willing to do this for someone who is a known fugitive at this point, without being [...] in their inner circle.”
“It seems like there's only a few possibilities,” Ms Fox continued. “One is that he's still in hiding and there's a lot of area to search, so that is a possibility, but another is that unfortunately both Gabby and Brian passed in this incident. If that is the case we will never know perhaps what exactly happened to Gabby. So there are a lot of reasons why we are hoping to find Brian.”
The police search for Mr Laundrie continues at the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve near his family home. Law enforcement investigated a possible sighting of him, captured on a deer camera in the Florida Panhandle, but determined there was no connection. In a statement on Tuesday, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said the agency was determined to ensure anyone “responsible for, or complicit in her death” would he “held accountable” for their actions.
“The FBI’s commitment to justice is at the forefront of each and every investigation,” he added.
The Independent has reached out to the lawyer of Mr Laundrie’s family for comment.