The boyfriend of Gabby Petito, whose body was found at a national park in Wyoming after a cross-country trip with him, has been charged with unauthorised use of a debit card.
However, the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie remains unknown, with authorities ramping up the search for him in a Florida nature preserve.
A federal grand jury indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Wyoming alleges Laundrie used a Capital One Bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorised withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 during the period in which Petito went missing.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said an arrest warrant issued Wednesday over the alleged fraudulent use of the bank card will allow law enforcement across the country to continue pursuing Laundrie while the investigation continues into Petito’s homicide.
Petito’s body was found along the eastern border of Grand Teton National Park by law enforcement agents who spent last weekend searching campsites.
A coroner concluded that Petito was killed by another person, but did not disclose a cause of death pending final autopsy results.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
Both Petito and Laundrie left from Long Island - where the pair grew up - in July, embarking on a cross-country trek in a converted van to visit the national parks of the US West.
On 1 September, Laundrie drove the van back to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida. He was alone.
Petito’s family filed a missing persons report 10 days later.
Police video released by a Utah department showed that an officer pulled the van over on 12 August after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near the entrance to Arches National Park.
Body cam footage showed an emotional Petito, who sat inside a police car while officers also questioned Laundrie.
Petito told officers she was struggling with her mental health, with the responding officer writing in their report that, "at no point in my investigation did Gabrielle stop crying, breathing heavily, or compose a sentence without needing to wipe away tears, wipe her nose, or rub her knees with her hands.”
Police decided not file any charges, instead separating the couple for the night with Laundrie checking into a motel and Petito remaining with the converted van, and characterising the incident as a mental/emotional health break instead of domestic assault.
Petito’s last known contact with her family came on 25 August, when she was in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, authorities said.
Who is Gabby Petito?
Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito first met Laundrie in high school in Suffolk County, New York, where the couple lived before moving in with Laundrie's parents in Florida in 2019.
The couple documented their cross-country journey on Petito's YouTube account as well as social media and their Instagram accounts; the last video from the trip was posted three weeks prior to her disappearance.
In an interview broadcast 20 September on TV’s Dr. Phil show, Gabby’s father Joseph said Laundrie and his daughter had dated for two and a half years, and Laundrie was “always respectful.”
During the interview, which was recorded before his daughter’s body was found, Petito said the couple had taken a previous road trip to California in her car and there were no problems.
Where is Brian Laundrie?
Petito’s family had been pleading for the Laundrie family to tell them where their son last saw her.
Laundrie has been missing since 14 September, with his family confirming the last they’d had seen of him was when he left the family home en route to Florida’s Carlton Reserve.
His family told investigators that he had driven to the reserve in a Mustang, which has since been collected from the area.
Police suggested it would be difficult to locate the missing 23-year old, with North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor saying: “You could be out here for months if you wanted”.
He told the New York Post: “It’s muddy, it’s wet, there are a few unpaved dirt roads that are out there basically running along the power lines.
“We’re not following him everywhere he’s going. We’re trying to keep an eye out kind of where he’s at so that when needed we could potentially reach him. But our focus was putting resources on trying to find Gabby.”
The FBI gave no details on the search of the Laundrie home, but agents removed several boxes and towed away a car that neighbours said was typically used by Laundrie’s mother.
Local media said Laundrie’s parents were seen getting into a police vehicle.
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