Law enforcement officials are currently engaged in a manhunt for Brian Laundrie, who is a “person of interest” in the death of his late girlfriend, Gabby Petito. Petito’s body was discovered earlier this month at a national park in Wyoming following an extensive search.
Laundrie himself went missing shortly after returning home to Florida without Petito, and authorities are now piecing together clues in hopes of determining his whereabouts. That includes evidence related to a cell phone Laundrie is alleged to have purchased right before he disappeared, as Fox News reports.
The significance of the phone purchase isn’t fully clear at this time, but it is reportedly in the custody of the FBI as part of its investigation.
Phone purchased day he went missing
News of the cell phone purchase was first reported by TMZ, which had learned from unnamed sources that Laundrie had been spotted entering an AT&T store in North Port, Florida — where he lived with his parents — on the same day he went missing.
The outlet noted that FBI agents had recently visited that store and obtained surveillance camera footage that showed Laundrie entering and leaving the establishment with an “older woman” by his side.
Since TMZ published that report, it has been updated to note that an attorney for Laundrie’s family, Steven Bertolino, had seemed to confirm that a phone was purchased.
The lawyer said that the device had been left at the North Port home when Laundrie disappeared and has since been seized by the FBI.
Both Fox News and TMZ attempted to elicit comment from the North Port store, AT&T corporate, and the FBI, but have had all denied the network’s requests.
Dog the Bounty Hunter on the case
Meanwhile, as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are still searching for Laundrie, so too is famed fugitive tracker Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman, according to the New York Post.
Chapman has established a sort of basecamp in Florida and has been attempting to track Laundrie in various parks and preserves in the state, particularly among the islands that make up the Florida Keys. One potential clue suggesting that Chapman is hot on Laundrie’s trail was the discovery of a fresh campsite and a discarded can of Monster energy drink that was not rusted or faded, signifying it had only been left there quite recently.
The Post noted that following Laundrie’s return to Florida sans-Petito in early September, and after a camping trip with his parents, he was last seen on Sept. 14, when he purportedly left to go hiking in the Carlton Reserve near Sarasota but had never returned. His parents reported him as missing on Sept. 17.
Laundrie has not been formally charged or even designated as a suspect in Petito’s death, but he is a “person of interest” and has been charged by the FBI with fraudulently using somebody else’s bank card.