Brian Laundrie manhunt: Friday search wraps up at Carlton Reserve; officers to return Saturday morning

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NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) — An arrest warrant has officially been issued for Brian Laundrie, the fiancé of Gabby Petito. However, the warrant is not connected to what happened to Petito – but what happened after her death.

The FBI in Denver says the arrest warrant was issued by the U.S. District court of Wyoming. Court documents obtained by WFLA show Laundrie was indicted for the “use of unauthorized access devices” following Petito’s death. According to the documents, Laundrie used a Capital One bank debit card and a pin for two Capital One bank accounts “knowingly and with intent to defraud” between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 in Wyoming and elsewhere. Using the accounts, he bought items worth more than a thousand dollars, authorities say.

The warrant issued Thursday comes after almost a full week of police searching for Laundrie where his family says he was last seen: the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County. According to police, Laundrie’s family says he drove his Ford Mustang there more than a week ago and has not been seen since.

Several law enforcement agencies headed back to the nature preserve on Friday morning to pick up the search again.

“The warrant doesn’t change anything for us,” North Port Police Commander Joe Fussell, the leader of the search, said. “We’re working as hard to find him now as we did on day one… these guys, their drive to find him on day one is the same as today, regardless of the warrant.”

The search wrapped up at around 5:20 p.m. with no results, according to North Port Public Information Officer Josh Taylor. But he and the North Port Police Department made clear Friday they don’t see the search at Carlton as a waste of time, despite social media comments.

“What I would say to the public is there are many, many more resources we are deploying in here other than the search efforts that we’re seeing here today,” Fussell explained. “We have investigative means, we have other technology, agencies that are issuing search warrants for data, whether it be social media or other investigative means and then we do the search.”

“We are not wasting our time out here,” he added. “We are doing our due diligence to find Brian in an area that intelligence had led us that he could possibly be in. It’s on us to to make sure that we search this area as best as we can, as massive as it is, with the resources that we have to try and find Brian.”

Taylor said officers will return to the reserve over the weekend, this time focusing on areas of where they believe Laundrie would be.

Several people we’ve heard from throughout the week are skeptical Laundrie is at the Carlton Reserve. 8 On Your Side spoke with an outdoors expert who has been through survival school to get his thoughts.

“I think by now, he would be in such discomfort, he would give himself up because he is going to want food, he’s going to want shelter. I would be surprised if he is there and if so, I would be surprised if he was alive,” said Darry Jackson.

According to WFLA photojournalist Paul Lamison, a temporary flight restriction – also known as a TFR – was raised up to 1,200 feet over the search as of Friday morning. It was previously about 400 feet.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the parents of Brian Laundrie were seen leaving their home. Their attorney, Steve Bertolino, tells 8 On Your Side the Laundrie’s met with him before returning to their house.

Police say the Laundrie family retained a lawyer soon after Gabby Petito was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11. Petito mysteriously disappeared during a cross-country road trip she was on with Laundrie, who police say returned home to North Port alone on Sept. 1.

Her white van that the couple had been traveling in was recovered by police from the Laundrie home, and police later identified Laundrie as a person of interest in the Petito case.

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