Investigators are looking into reports that Brian Laundrie and his parents twice went to Fort De Soto Park south of St Petersburg after his return home without girlfriend Gabby Petito on September 1.
Fox News said that one of its digital reporters heard an employee of the Pinellas County park say that investigators had checked park surveillance video for signs of the family’s movements.
Fort De Soto is a much smaller park than the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve, where Roberta and Christopher Laundrie told police their son had gone shortly after Petito was reported missing and just days before her murdered body was found at a remote camping area in Wyoming. The park contains a little more than 1,000 acres and consists of five keys about 75 miles from North Port, where the Laundries live.
The park is also very near the 1,800-acre Shell Key Preserve, the 328-acre Egmont Key State Park and National Wildlife Refuge, and the 394-acre Pinellas National Wildlife Refuge, all of which are accessible only by boat, although Pinellas is closed to the public.
Brian Laundrie and Petito left on a cross-country van trip on July 2, and Laundrie returned home on September 1 in the van but without Petito. He did not tell Petito’s family he was back, nor that his girlfriend didn’t come home with him. Laundrie’s family kept him away from police and didn’t speak to investigators themselves until they called on September 17 to say their son was missing.
Neighbors of the Laundries said the family loaded up a camper and left for the weekend shortly after Brian’s return, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
While the FBI, which has launched a manhunt for Laundrie after charging him with bank fraud for using Petito’s debit card and PIN number after her death, have been tight lipped about their investigation — other than the very visible search of the flooded Carlton Reserve — celebrity investigators Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman told Fox that the Laundries were at Fort De Soto September 1-3 and September 6-8, something that wasn’t mentioned by the neighbors.
“We think at least if he’s not here right now, we are sure he was caught on camera as he went in the gate — that he was here for sure,” Chapman said. “Not over in the swamp.”
Chapman also said that he’d heard that on the second trip, “allegedly … three people came in on the 6th, and two people left on the 8th.”
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[Featured image: The home of Brian Laundrie with truck and camper in the driveway. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)]