The U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie, who was named earlier as a person of interest in the disappearance and death of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, in Wyoming, the FBI said on Thursday.
Authorities have been searching for Laundrie, who hasn’t yet been found, in a swampy wilderness area in Sarasota County, Florida.
The body of Petito was found on Sunday in a national park area in Wyoming. Weeks before that, Laundrie returned to his home in Florida without Petitio after the two went on a cross-country road trip, and officials said that he was not cooperative with their investigation.
A coroner’s office confirmed that the body was Petito’s and her cause of death was homicide.
A federal grand jury indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Wyoming alleges Brian Laundrie used a Capital One bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 during the period in which Petito went missing. It does not say who the card belonged to.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said an arrest warrant issued Wednesday over the alleged fraudulent use of the bank card will allow law enforcement across the country to continue pursuing Laundrie while the investigation continues into Petito’s homicide. He urged anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts or who knows other details about the case to contact the FBI.
Meanwhile, the search for Laundrie could be complicated by the man’s extensive backpacking and hiking experience.
A friend of Petito, Rose Davis, told the Daily Mail that Laundrie has taken months-long nature trips in the Appalachian Mountains.
“I know he lived in the Appalachians for what I believe was three months, and he did it by himself, so I know he’s skilled at it,” she told the paper. “He and Gabby both told me stories about it.”
“You could see the enthusiasm in his voice when he would talk about his adventures by himself like that trip into the Appalachians,” Davis added.
Laundrie’s parents last week said Laundrie left their home in North Port, Florida, and went hiking in the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre park.
Authorities are using helicopters, drones, dogs, and officers in all-terrain vehicles in their search for Laundrie. About 75 percent of the search area is underwater.
On Monday, the FBI went to Laundrie’s parents’ home in North Port and removed several boxes and towed away a car neighbors said Laundrie’s mother typically used.
When the young couple had set out in July in a converted van to visit national parks in the West, they got into a fight along the way, and Laundrie was alone when he returned in the van to his parents’ home Sept. 1, police said.
Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the case, but his whereabouts in recent days were unknown. Petito’s father, Joseph, posted on social media an image of a broken heart above a picture of his daughter, with the message: “She touched the world.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.