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Brian Laundrie search in Gabby Petito case continues in massive Florida reserve

NORTH PORT, Florida (WABC) — Search teams fanned out for a fourth day at a massive wilderness park to look for the boyfriend of Gabby Petito, the young woman who authorities say was killed while on a cross-country trip with him.

Petito, 22, was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after they she did not respond to calls and texts for several days while the couple visited parks in the West.

Her body was discovered Sunday at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. A coroner ruled her death a homicide.

Underwater team joins the search

Divers joined in the search for 23-year-old Laundrie in Florida on Wednesday.

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that they sent members of their Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Force to Carlton Reserve.

The search for Laundrie is centered on a massive reserve near North Port where investigators said he returned to his family’s home on Sept. 1 without his fiancee Gabby Petito, 22, but driving her 2012 Ford Transit.

Officials said large bodies of water are located in the reserve and deploying the dive team does not mean anything has been found. It’s a part of the overall search process.

Laundrie has been named by police as a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance. He has refused to speak to the police and has not been seen since Tuesday, Sept. 14, according to law enforcement officials.

Investigators first searched the 25,000-acre Carolton Reserve over the weekend without success. They focused on the area after Laundrie’s parents told police he may have gone there.

The search moved to the Venice area of the reserve on Tuesday, where they remained on Wednesday. Authorities have also deployed dogs, multiple all-terrain vehicles and drones in their search.

Laundrie neighbor recalls seeing Brian after his return

A neighbor of the Laundrie’s in North Port, Florida says she saw Brian Laundrie after his return home.

Karyn Aberts told Kristin Thorne that she saw him walking with his parents but thought nothing of it. She described the current situation as “very surreal.”

The full interview is below.

2nd witness corroborates domestic dispute between couple

Police have released a written statement from a person who witnessed the domestic dispute between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie in August.

In the statement reported on August 12, the witness, named Chris, claims that the couple appeared to have some sort of dispute and recalls Petito punching Laundrie in the arm and face.

Another witness who called 911 claimed he witnessed Brian Laundrie “slapping” Gabby Petito and chasing her up and down a sidewalk.

Moab Police Department in Utah responded to the incident that day, located the van and pulled the couple over.

Why isn’t there an arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie?

ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams explained why there hasn’t been an arrest warrant issued for Brian Laundrie in the Gabby Petito case and why the cause of death for Petito has yet to be released.

“They want to find him. Period. They are now devoting all of their resources as if there was an arrest warrant out for him. But there’s still not officially an arrest warrant,” Abrams said. “I think that they want to gather all of the evidence so that they don’t get accused in a trial later of making mistakes.”

A warrant could change the obligations of Brian Laundrie’s parents, he added.

You can watch the full interview here.

Man seen on video in Panhandle was not him

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office has positively identified the individual whose image was captured on a deer trail camera near Baker and shared on social media, sparking nationwide speculation that it was Laundrie.

The OCSO has confirmed the man is an Okaloosa County resident who acknowledged he was the one walking on the deer trail carrying his backpack. Several OCSO deputies familiar with the individual noticed the resemblance to the photo of the person spotted on the deer trail, as well as the presence of a neck tattoo.

The private citizen was located and a positive identification has been made.

During its search and investigation, the OCSO found no indications that Brian Laundrie is, or was, in Okaloosa County.

Gabby Petito’s coroner report

Gabby Petito died by homicide, a coroner concluded on Tuesday while also confirming that the human remains found recently at a Wyoming national park were those of the 22-year-old woman.

Her body was discovered at a Wyoming national park over the weekend, months after the couple, originally from Long Island, set out on a cross-country road trip.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said the cause of her death remains pending final autopsy results.

Growing memorial for Gabby Petito’s hometown

Neighbors have put up teal ribbons around the Petito family home in Blue Point, New York on Long Island. It’s a show of support to remember and pay tribute to Gabby’s memory.

In Wyoming, someone set up a makeshift cross with river rocks from the slowly disappearing Spread Creek. The location is where Petito’s remains are believed to have been found.

An attorney for the Petito family released a statement promising a statement from the family when “Gabby comes home.”

RELATED | Gabby Petito disappearance timeline: What we know so far

The FBI said investigators are still seeking information from anyone who may have seen the couple around Grand Teton.

ALSO READ: ABC Exclusive: Full interview with Brian Laundrie’s sister on Gabby Petito

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