The father of fugitive Brian Laundrie has said he will assist authorities in the search for his missing son, the family’s attorney said on Wednesday.
Family lawyer Steven Bertolino said that Christopher Laundrie “consented” to assist law enforcement with their search for his 23-year-old son, who was last seen on Sept. 13, days after his fiancee Gabby Petito was reported missing.
Less than a week later, on Sept. 19, authorities found Petito’s body in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Her manner of death was later ruled a homicide by a local coroner.
Laundrie’s parents reported him as missing on Sept. 17. Authorities have for weeks been attempting to locate his whereabouts, with much of their efforts spent searching a wildlife preserve near his family home in North Port, Florida, after officials said his parents directed them there.
On Tuesday, Bertolino told news outlets in a statement that “upon further communication with the FBI,” officials “now believe” that Laundrie left the house on Sept. 13.
“Chris Laundrie was asked to assist law enforcement in their search for Brian at the preserve today,” Bertolino told Fox News in a statement on Wednesday night. “Since the preserve has been closed to the public, Chris has not been able to look for Brian in the only place Chris and Roberta believe Brian may be.”
North Port police “had to postpone” the father’s participation in the search, the attorney said, noting that he wasn’t involved in Wednesday’s search efforts.
“Chris and Roberta are hopeful there will be another opportunity to assist,” Bertolino added, referring to the missing 23-year-old’s parents.
Meanwhile, Josh Taylor, the North Port Police Department’s chief spokesman, told the news outlet that Chris Laundrie wasn’t asked by his department for assistance. The department didn’t “postpone” his participation either, Taylor said.
“In no world would we be the agency asking the family to help search in an FBI led investigation,” the spokesman said, deferring further questions to the FBI.
The FBI declined to comment.
The Laundrie family attorney later said that the request for his client’s participation “perhaps” came from “a liaison to FBI,” adding, “My statement is correct.”
The FBI on Sept. 23 announced a federal warrant for Brian Laundrie’s arrest for unauthorized use of a debit card. The fugitive allegedly made unauthorized withdrawals using Petito’s bank card worth more than $1,000 during the period in which his fiancee went missing.
As authorities continue in their search for the missing Laundrie, reports have emerged of possible sightings in several parts of Florida, and near the Appalachian Trail near the North Carolina border.
A hiker in Tennessee, Dennis Davis, told several news outlets over the weekend that he saw a man who resembled Laundrie driving a white pickup truck around 12:30 a.m. ET on Saturday in the area.
The mother of Petito said in an interview that aired on Tuesday that she believes Laundrie’s parents “know a lot more information than they’re putting out there.”
“Somebody needs to start talking,” Nichole Schmidt said during an appearance on the “Dr. Phil” show with her husband.
Joe Petito said during the interview that before he and his wife reported their daughter as missing, they believed Laundrie had also disappeared. They both called and texted Laundrie’s mother and “any phone number that I could get for that family,” he said, but they received no response.
“A normal parent, when you text someone that you’re going to call the cops because you can’t find your child, they would reply. No response, no nothing,” he said.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the latest details.