EXCLUSIVE: ‘This could be the last day of the hunt’: Dog the Bounty Hunter and new wife are ‘working on very strong leads’ as he searches coastline of Florida campsite where Laundrie family stayed five days BEFORE Gabby Petito was reported missing
Dog the Bounty Hunter has been searching coastline and creeks on Wednesday for wanted Brian Laundrie in the area of the Florida campground that the fugitive visited with his parents earlier this month, DailyMail.com can reveal.
The TV reality star – real name Duane Chapman, 68 – has been aboard a boat and working with his own teams around the Fort De Soto site about 75 miles from the North Port home Laundrie shared with dad Christopher, 62, and mom Roberta, 55.
‘He’s working on very strong leads today,’ said the former bail bondsman’s spokesperson Jennifer Willingham. ‘This could very well be the last day of the hunt to apprehend Brian Laundrie.
‘He’s been using a boat. But we don’t want other folk piling in with their boats in the area. He’s following specific information.’
Dog and his new wife Francie Frane were seen arriving Wednesday morning at Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County, where it has emerged that 23-year-old Laundrie had camped with his parents five days before his fiancée Gabby Petito was reported missing.
The reality TV duo, who tied the knot in Colorado only weeks ago, looked ready for business as they hopped out of their vehicle outside the park entrance.
Dog the Bounty Hunter boarded a boat Wednesday to search the area around the Fort De Soto campground that Brian Laundrie and his parents visited earlier this month
Dog was seen arriving at Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County Wednesday morning with his new wife, Francie Frane, ahead of the search operation
The reality TV duo, who tied the knot in Colorado only weeks ago, looked ready for business as they hopped out of their vehicle outside the park entrance
The attorney for Brian Laundrie’s parents has confirmed that all three went camping in Fort De Soto in Florida national Park just days before his fiancée Gabby Petito was reported missing. The camping site is seen in exclusive DailyMail.com photos
The campsite (pictured) is located in Fort De Soto in Pinellas County, Florida, close to St Petersburg
The attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie has confirmed that Laundrie went camping with his parents at Fort de Soto Park five days before Gabby Petito was reported missing. Laundrie had returned home to North Port, Florida on September 1 and Petito was reported missing on September 11. Police and FBI are now searching Cartlon Reserve for any sign of him
Dog drove his huge white truck with American flags flying, and chatted to an officer from Pinellas County Sheriff.
Police were on hand at the site, which has come under the spotlight as a possible area of interest in the manhunt, and an unidentified helicopter was spotted overhead this morning.
The Laundrie family attorney confirmed on Tuesday that all three family members went camping at the site just five days before Gabby Petito was reported missing on September 11.
Brian had returned alone to North Port on September 1 from a cross-country road trip with Gabby, whose body was found in Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming on September 19.
Attorney Steven Bertolino said the Laundries camped together at Fort De Soto from September 6, leaving together the following day.
‘They all left the park,’ he told Fox 13.
But Dog, who joined the search for Brian over the weekend, has claimed that Laundrie’s parents spent the night in Fort De Soto in Pinellas County, Florida, from September 1 to 3, staying in spot number 1.
According to the bounty hunter, they returned again with Brian to stay on spot 15 from September 6 to 8, and left without him.
However, records did not show the Laundrie family staying at the park from September 1 to 3.
Bertolino had initially responded to the allegations saying ‘I will no longer give that dog credibility or dignify his false claims with the time of my reply.’
Meanwhile at the Carlton Reserve – 13 miles from the Laundries’ North Port home – the FBI continued their hunt for Brian on Wednesday in the 25,000-acre alligator and snake-infested swampland
The FBI’s main search area has switched back to the starting point of Mayakkahatchee Environmental Park (pictured) where Laundrie’s silver Ford Mustang convertible was parked on the night of Tuesday, September 14
DailyMail.com also witnessed FBI agents taking trash bags of possible evidence from the swamp to a nearby hotel, where they appear to have set up a center
The park is connected to the main reserve by a bridge, leading to the menacing, flooded and often densely wooded wilderness
Timeline of missing Gabby Petito’s case
- July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip
- August 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple
- Aug. 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah
- Aug. 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie
- Aug. 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park
- Aug. 25 or 26: The couple chats with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes
- Aug. 27: Video of Petito’s van was taken by blogger Jenn Bethune, of Red White & Bethune, around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground
- Aug. 29: The day that Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker claimed that she and her boyfriend were approached by Laundrie at Grand Teton National Park and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm
- Aug. 30: Mrs Schmidt receives the last text from Petito: ‘No service in Yosemite’
- Sept. 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito
- Sept. 1-3: Dog the Bounty Hunter claims Laundie family went to Fort De Soto campsite but no records back this up
- Sept. 6-7: Laundrie and his parents visit Fort De Soto campsite in Florida, the family’s lawyer confirms
- Sept. 11: Mrs Schmidt reports Petito missing to authorities in New York; Petito and Laundrie’s van was impounded by police in Florida that same day
- Sept. 12: Grand Teton National Park rangers search for Petito
- Sept. 14: Laundrie issues a statement about Petito’s disappearance through his lawyer; Also on this day, Laundrie allegedly left his parents’ home for a hike
- Sept. 14: Laundrie reportedly bought a burner phone from an AT&T store in his hometown of North Port, Florida
- Sept. 15: Laundrie is officially named a person of interest in Petito’s case
- Sept. 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown
- Sept. 18: North Port police and the FBI start searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County for missing Brian Laundrie
- Sept. 19: Bethune realizes she has video of Petito’s van around 12am and submits the FBI with the footage 10 minutes later; Officials announce a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Petito’s description in the afternoon
- Sept. 21: Coroner confirms remains found in Grand Tetons belong to Petito. Her death is ruled a homicide but her cause of death is still under invesetigation
- Sept. 20 – 22: FBI and North Port police continue search for Laundrie in Carton Reserve
- Sept. 22: Neighbors say they saw the Laudrie family pack up their detached camper on the day Gabby was reported missing. DailyMail.com photos show the camper was back in the driveway two days later, on September 13
However he later confirmed the family had stayed at the site, though he gave the dates as being from September 6 to 7.
If Dog’s claims are accurate, Brian could have had a week headstart before he was named a person of interest on September 15.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department has said there is no police search in the De Soto area for Laundrie.
And despite the TV star’s confidence, the FBI continued their hunt for Laundrie today in the 25,000-acre alligator and snake-infested swampland of Carlton Reserve, which is 13 miles from the family home.
The operation is now on day 11, although it has been scaled down from when more than 50 searchers from six agencies – including North Port Police and three local sheriff’s departments – swarmed the area in swamp buggies.
Its main search area has switched back to the starting point of Mayakkahatchee Environmental Park, where Laundrie’s silver Ford Mustang convertible was parked on the night of Tuesday, September 14.
Laundrie told his parents he was heading there that night and that was the last time they saw him, they told police.
DailyMail.com went into the park and followed a possible trail Laundrie could have taken from the parked car if he actually went into the swampland.
The park is connected to the main reserve by a bridge, leading to the menacing, flooded and often densely wooded wilderness where aggressive Cottonmouth snakes are an even deadlier danger than alligators.
Deep pools of brackish water hiding dangerous wildlife are evident in even the most accessible areas.
However, at one point there is a straight currently dry trail that runs for miles, which Laundrie could have taken to cover ground quickly.
One person close to the search told DailyMail.com: ‘I don’t believe they’re looking for a body, even now. They’re still on a manhunt. There have been no signs of buzzards circling, and that’s a sure sign of a body in these places.’
The FBI-led hunt used a boat Wednesday starting along the canal that links to the Mayakkahatchee Creek.
DailyMail.com also witnessed FBI agents taking trash bags of possible evidence from the swamp to a nearby hotel, where they appear to have set up a center.
The confirmation of the family camping trip comes amid growing speculation that Laundrie’s mother could be using a burner phone as the hunt for her son continues.
Reporters in Tampa approached the FBI after internet sleuths showed screen grabs of Dog the Bounty Hunter’s daughter Lyssa Chapman appearing to confirm the FBI believe Roberta Laundrie is using a burner phone.
It has not been suggested that she is using the burner phone to communicate with her son.
‘We do not confirm or deny contact with any individual or entity in order to preserve their privacy, as such, we do not confirm or deny the receipt of any tip. We have no additional comment,’ the FBI said, according to 10 Tampa Bay reporter Shannon Clowe.
Lyssa Chapman, tweeted that the FBI confirmed the accusations that Roberta is in possession of a burner phone but did not present any evidence of the confirmation.
The Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, had ‘no comment.’
Internet sleuths have claimed that Brian is using a burner phone after allegedly noticing changes to his Instagram and Spotify accounts since he disappeared two weeks ago.
His Instagram account reportedly went live for three seconds on Monday showing waves and just a peak of an olive green boat, according to Inside Edition.
The account also reportedly unfollowed several people.
There have also been claims online that Brian’s Spotify playlist name changed from ‘Selfconsomption’ to ‘Nomatic Statik.’ The playlist was reportedly created after Petito’s disappearance.
Brian has been named a person of interest in the investigation into his fiancée’s death. Her remains were found in Wyoming and her death ruled a homicide after she was reported missing on September 11.
Dog the Bounty Hunter joined the search for Brian on Saturday and was quickly flooded with tips, one of which claimed that the Laundrie family spent the night in Fort De Soto Park with their son twice after he came back alone from Wyoming in early September.
Dog said in an interview with Dr Oz on Tuesday that he wants to speak to Brian’s father, because parents know where their kids are ’50 per cent of the time’ when they have been accused of a crime. He said another 35 per cent of parents help with the search.
Dog, who was convicted of first degree murder in the 1970s, added: ‘I wanna talk to his dad and explain the difference between involuntary manslaughter and murder one out of Wyoming.
‘In murder one, you’re facing the death penalty. A manslaughter is a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
‘I wanted to explain to him, “I know exactly what you’re going through right now. As a matter of fact, I personally went through it.” So, I just wanted to talk to the dad.’
A Fort Meyers couple have claimed they camped next to Brian and his parents during their campsite trip to Fort De Soto Park.
A spokesperson for the bounty hunter told DailyMail.com Dog was ‘working on very strong leads’ Wednesday and it could ‘very well be the last day of the hunt to apprehend Brian Laundrie’
Pictured Fort De Soto park in Florida. Dog the Bounty Hunter claimed on Monday that he had found a campsite Brian Laundrie and his parents stayed at after Laundrie returned home without girlfriend Gabby Petito.
An unidentified helicopter was spotted overhead this morning at the Fort De Soto campground
Roberta Laundrie (right) has been accused of using a burner phone to keep in contact with her son, Brian, who is currently wanted by the police. Christopher (left) and Roberta (right) Laundrie visited their attorney in Orlando on Thursday
Marcie and Kenny Newson realized they may have stayed near the family after looking back on photos and seeing a red truck with a camper similar to the one parked in the Laundries’ driveway.
They said they could not confirm physically seeing Laundrie but a selfie from their trip appears to show him walking across the campsite.
‘They kept to themselves. They were there an then they weren’t’, they told NBC 2.
Another camper whose name appeared on the ledger was celebrating his anniversary with his wife three spots down from the Laundries.
Thomas Rutherford told Fox News that he could ‘vaguely remember’ spotting the Laundries’ vehicle, which they noted due to the novelty of seeing a camper attached to a vehicle.
Since the tip lead investigators to the Florida park about 75 miles north of North Port, it has been revealed that Brian and Petito have stayed at the campsite before.
Two months ago, the pair uploaded a series of photos to hiking website The Dyrt that show them relaxing on the beach and exploring the Fort De Soto campground.
A spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office told DailyMail.com that there is no search underway and the only activity at the 1,130-acre site Tuesday was a handful of media helicopters circling overhead.
A spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said: ‘We are not conducting an investigation at Fort De Soto. We are unaware of any confirmed sightings of Brian.’
Duane Chapman, better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, (pictured at the weekend outside the Laundrie house in North Port, Florida) said on Monday that he had located a campsite where the Laundrie family stayed in September and where he believes Brian Laundrie is hiding out
Brian (left) has also been accused of using a burner phone after activity to his social media accounts were allegedly spotted by people online
Records show that the Laundrie family checked into the Fort De Soto campground
Dog continues to push the idea that Laundrie could be there, hopping from island to island in a canoe to evade detection.
In one photo from the fateful couple’s visit, Laundrie and Gabby are seen peering through the bars of a jail cell at an old fort. In more snaps, Gabby is seen reading a true crime novel book on the beach, exploring the dunes and holding a starfish in the palm of her hand.
‘Really nice campground, beautiful area with many hikes and easy walks, the beach, historic sites, really nice camp store and well maintained sites!’ the couple said in a review.
Based around a fort built in 1900, Fort De Soto contains more than seven miles of waterfront, eleven floating docks and multiple places to launch kayaks and canoes.
Last week, Laundrie’s neighbors, Charlene and William Guthrie, said they saw the family hook up the camper to the back of their pickup truck for a weekend trip away about a week after their son’s return, on September 11 – the same day Gabby was reported missing.
The family would have returned about two days later as DailyMail.com photos show the camper back in the driveway on September 13.
Marcie and Kenny Newsom (first and second right) said they could not confirm physically seeing Laundrie but a selfie from their trip appears to show him walking across the campsite
A Fort Meyers couple realized they may have stayed near the family after looking back on photos and seeing a red truck with a camper (left) similar to the one parked in the Laundries’ driveway (right)
When police contacted the Guthries over the disappearance of Petito, William told them about the family’s trip, noting that it was unusual for Christopher and Roberta Laundrie to go off in such a small camper with their 23-year-old son.
‘I saw them doing some work. And then when they prepared for their trip, I saw them loading the camper,’ William told Fox News.
Search efforts have so far been concentrated at the Carlton Reserve – an alligator-infested watery 25,000-acre site 13 miles north of the Laundrie family home in North Port.
‘Really nice campground, beautiful area with many hikes and easy walks, the beach, historic sites, really nice camp store and well maintained sites!’ Gabby and Brian said in a review of the campsite during their visit two months ago (pictured)
An extensive search for Laundrie has been underway since his parents reported him missing on September 17 – two days after he was named a person of interest in the homicide of Petito, whose remains were found on September 19
In more snaps Gabby is seen reading a true crime novel book on the beach, exploring the dunes and holding a starfish in the palm of her hand
‘Allegedly, what we’re hearing, is two people left on the 8th,’ said Chapman.
‘Three people came in on the 6th, and two people left on the 8th. I think he’s been here for sure.’
A Fox News Digital reporter overheard a park worker say investigators had checked surveillance video on the grounds.
The Laundries maintained their silence Tuesday when they were seen leaving home mid-morning to buy groceries at Walmart. They have not publicly commented on Brian’s disappearance or the slaying of his fiancé.
Brian was charged with ‘use of unauthorized access device’ last Thursday, but said they will ‘continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide.’
An extensive search for Brian has been underway since his parents reported him missing on September 17 – two days after he was named a person of interest in Petito’s case.
Dog believes that Laundrie could be in this area, hopping from island to island in a canoe to evade detection
Based around a fort built in 1900, Fort De Soto contains more than seven miles of waterfront, eleven floating docks and multiple places to launch kayaks and canoes
Dog is adamant that Brian could be hopping from island to island in a kayak or canoe at the Fort De Soto camping site
Petito and Brian visited the De Soto campground together according to their review on The Dyrt
The FBI refused to confirm or deny the allegations as Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, declined to comment
A group of 75 officers from more than 16 agencies joined the search last week, using drones, diver units, dogs and ATV vehicles to comb the 25,000-acre preserve since his parents reported that Brian might be there.
Over 100 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails are contained in the park, along with camping areas and rivers. Wildlife there includes alligators, bobcats, snakes and coyotes.
Florida cattle rancher Alan McEwen, who lives outside the Carlton Reserve, has spent 30 years exploring the area and said it’s not somewhere humans can easily live. He has been assisting police in their search for Brian.
‘There’s no surviving out here, I don’t know how to say it,’ he told Fox News.
‘I’ve been in the woods in and out all my life. I have learned a lot in my life, and one thing I know is no one is gonna survive out there for two weeks on foot.’
Dog vowed to find him before his 24th birthday on November 18. Seattle’s Boohoof Law offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
Travelers describe ‘odd encounters’ with Brian Laundrie in the final days of Gabby Petito’s life
Hunter Mannies, 44, (pictured) believes he had an encounter with Brian Laundrie, 23, in a bar one day before Gabby Petito, 22, went missing
Multiple travelers are sharing stories of their encounters with a man they believe to be Brian Laundrie that took place in the days before Gabby Petito was last seen alive.
Hunter Mannies, 44, from Louisiana, has said he believes he saw a man matching Laundrie’s description at Bullwinkle’s Saloon in West Yellowstone, Montana on August 26.
‘It was an odd encounter,’ Mannies said during a Fox & Friends interview.
‘There was a guy by himself at the end of the bar. We really didn’t pay him much attention until he got kind of – he just seemed overly invested in our conversation and eventually ended up speaking up.’
Mannies says the bargoer – who introduced himself as ‘Brian’ – was giving off an ‘uncomfortable vibe’ during the time he was in the bar, before he interjected in the conversation that Mannies was having with a friend about hunting, guns and politics.
‘[Laundrie] abruptly jumped into it with a comment about ‘stupid Southerners’ and some expletives about Republicans,’ he shared.
‘I kind of laughed and said, ‘Well, where are you from?’ and he said, ‘New York,’ Mannies explained. ‘And I said, ‘Okay, New York’ and he said, ‘I have a name, it’s Brian,” Mannies added, speaking with The New York Post.
‘I said, ‘Let me ask you this, New York. What did you expect to find in a small mountain town in the middle of nowhere Montana? Did you expect to find a bunch of Democrats?”
He added: ‘He was overly invested in our conversation. We felt watched. He wasn’t talking to the bartenders. He was there alone. It just stood out as odd. He was just mad at the world it seemed like.’
Mannies also said that the bargoer ‘he had that serial killer look.’ He has reported the encounter to the FBI.
Mannies claims Laundrie was sitting alone at Bullwinkle’s Saloon in West Yellowstone August 26
Mannies says the bargoer – who introduced himself as ‘Brian’ – was giving off an ‘uncomfortable vibe’ during the time he was in the bar, before he interjected in the conversation that Mannies was having with a friend about hunting, guns and politics
Two women have also come forward, each claiming that they picked up Laundrie who was hitchhiking in Grand Teton National Park.
TikToker Miranda Baker said she and her boyfriend were at Grand Teton National Park on August 29 when Laundrie approached the couple and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm.
‘He approached us asking for a ride because he needed to go to Jackson and we were going to Jackson that night. So I said, ya know, “hop in” and he hopped in the back of my Jeep,’ Baker explained.
TikToker Miranda Baker (pictured) said she and her boyfriend were at Grand Teton National Park in Colter Bay, Wyoming, on August 29 when Laundrie approached the couple and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm
Baker explained that her, her boyfriend and Laundrie ‘then proceeded to make small talk’ and found out he had been camping for multiple days without his fiancée.
‘He did say he had a fiancée and that she was working on their social media page back at their van,’ Baker said.
She also said that Laundrie told her he and his companion were not camping on a regulated campsite through the national park.
‘They were camping basically out in the middle of nowhere along Snake River,’ she said.
Baker recounted the alleged story Laundrie told her and her boyfriend: ‘This is key information. He said that he had hiked for days along Snake River but looking at his backpack, it wasn’t full.
‘And he said all he had was a tarp to sleep on. And, if you’d think you’re going camping for days on end you’d want food and a tent and he had none of that.’
She added: ‘He had scruff but he didn’t look dirty for someone who was camping for multiple days. He didn’t look dirty, he didn’t smell dirty, so that part was kind of weird.’
Then, when Baker told Laundrie they were driving to Jackson Hole he supposedly ‘freaked out’ and asked them to pull over and said: ‘Nope, I need to get out right now.’
Baker said they pulled over at the Jackson Dam in Grand Teton National Park, which she noted was not very far from where they originally picked Laundrie up.
He allegedly hurried out of the car and told the couple he would find someone else to hitchhike with.
Police have since told Fox 13 News that Baker’s story is ‘possibly credible’.
Gabby Petitio’s body was found in the Spread Creek campsite in Wyoming on Sunday and the next day her death was ruled a homicide. She is pictured during a police stop in August
Laundrie was last seen more than a week ago and his whereabouts remain unknown. He is pictured during a police stop last month
A second woman, Norma Jean Jalovec, also said she picked Laundrie while he was hitchhiking up on August 29.
She claims Laundrie asked her tp drop him off at the gate of the Spread Creek campground and tried to jump out of the car when she offered to drive him inside.
‘He got agitated when I said, ‘Do you want me to take you past the gate, down the road [to the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area]?” Jalovec told People.
‘He was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. This is fine.’ He said, ‘Just let me out here. You can let me out here.”
Jalovec said she found his ‘antsy behavior’ to be odd, noting that he offered her $200 for gas money, even though she only drove him a short distance.
‘He was antsy and just wanted to get out at the gate. I said, ‘Oh, you don’t want your fiancée to see you being dropped off out of an SUV. You want her to think you hiked all the way back.”
She continued: ‘But now we all know, obviously, there was a reason why he probably didn’t want me to go down that road.’
‘If no one else comes forward about seeing him after 6:40 p.m., then I was the last person to see him.’