Politics

Where IS Gabby Petito’s missing fiance? Survival expert’s chilling new theory on Brian Laundrie


For more than three weeks, local and federal authorities have been combing through a 25,000-acre nature reserve searching for Brian Laundrie, the fiancé of 22-year-old Gabby Petito.

On September 1, Laundrie returned in Petito’s van to the couple’s North Port, Florida, home from a cross-country road trip the couple embarked on earlier in the summer, police have said. Petito’s remains were later found in Wyoming’s Teton County.

Laundrie has not been accused of any wrongdoing in Petito’s killing. Laundrie’s parents told police he left home on September 13 — a day earlier than they initially told investigators — to hike in the nearby Carlton Reserve.

Dozens of officers from agencies including the FBI, the North Port Police Department, Florida Wildlife Commission, several sheriff’s offices and K9 search and rescue teams have been searching the reserve since Laundrie’s parents first talked to police on September 17.

The investigation into the disappearance of Brian Laundrie has taken a turn.
The investigation into the disappearance of Brian Laundrie has taken a turn. Credit: Instagram/Gabby Petito

“The Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. It is currently (waist) deep in water in many areas,” North Port police said in a Facebook post last month. “This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.”

CNN asked survival experts if it’s possible Laundrie is alive if he has been in the reserve since mid-September. Here’s what they said.

It depends on his supplies and experience

In an ABC interview that aired last week, Laundrie’s sister, Cassie Laundrie, said he had previously taken trips for up to five days on the Appalachian Trail. She said her brother is a “mediocre survivalist.”

Robert Urban, founder and chief instructor of the Urban Survival Academy, said he believes it’s highly unlikely that someone who is not professionally trained in survival tactics would be able to survive in the reserve for this long.

“Florida’s climate is very, very difficult,” Urban told CNN. “I’m an expert with plenty of experience, and it would be everything that I could do to survive for (more) than three weeks. Someone with no experience, you cannot be lucky and survive in that sort of climate.”

The list of challenges Laundrie could be facing isn’t a short one. There’s wildlife that could hurt him, including water moccasins, hogs, bears and alligators, survival experts told CNN. There have also been panther sightings in the reserve in the past. If Laundrie was in the reserve for this long, he would likely also not be operating under the best mindset, several experts added, due to the anxiety of trying to evade authorities and trying to survive, which could hinder his survival skills.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. Credit: Instagram

“When you’re tired, you’re not as defensive, you’re not as vigilant as you should be,” Urban said.

Jason Marsteiner, founder and president of The Survival University, said when he sends trainees of his program in the wilderness — for just about a week after they’ve gone through a 50-day course — they struggle.

“Twenty-five days in that area is extremely tough. I wouldn’t want to do it and I’ve got jungle training, I’ve got mountain training,” he said. “He’s not sleeping well, and when you don’t sleep you slowly drive yourself insane, so he would be making bad decisions, bad choices and I think that would cause him to be found or get injured or perish.”

He would need shelter, water, food

It’s unclear what Laundrie took with him when he left. His parents told police he left home with a backpack. Experts say a big part of whether he could still be alive if he was in the reserve depends on how prepared he was when he allegedly went in and how able he is to come up with the three basics: shelter, water and food.

“If he had ways to disinfect the water through filtration and (cover) to protect himself from the weather and things like that, he could survive for a certain period of time,” survival expert Dave Canterbury told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Thursday. “If he had ways to gather food and process that food, he could survive even longer.”



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