North Port Police paused their search for Brian Laundrie in the Florida swamps at nightfall Saturday — while thousands of miles away the search for his missing girlfriend Gabby Petito continued.
“Our search of the Carlton is being called this evening due to darkness. Nothing found. Efforts will begin again Sunday morning,” North Port Police tweeted Saturday evening around 7:45 p.m.
Laundrie refused to speak to police or Petito’s family after he returned alone from a lengthy road trip with his girlfriend, who was reported missing on Sept. 11.
Then he went missing, too.
Laundrie, 23, was last seen Tuesday when he reportedly never returned home from a hike in the area of the Carlton Reserve in the northern area of the city, which encompasses roughly 25,000 acres of wilderness.
The first day of the search — which included 50 local agencies and the FBI employing drones and scent-tracking K9 dogs — ended fruitlessly.
Police began the search Saturday morning at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, a 160-acre park connected to the marshy Carlton Reserve by a bridge where Laundrie was known to go hiking.
Law enforcement trudged through difficult, wet terrain to begin their search.
“It’s muddy, it’s wet, there are a few unpaved dirt roads that are out there basically running along the power lines, you know its a place that people hike, there are mountain biking trails out there,” North Port Police Department spokesman Josh Taylor said Saturday, adding the search could take “a long time.”
The park is the last place Laundrie’s parents told investigators he was seen, after meeting with investigators to discuss his disappearance on Friday.
Laundrie left his home on Tuesday with a backpack and told his parents that he was going for a hike in the area, his parents told police. Police are basing their search efforts on his parents’ word.
Police said that it’s “fair to say” that Laundrie could potentially be a danger to himself or others. They couldn’t say if he was armed or owned a gun.
“I mean you have somebody, there’s an enormous amount of pressure I’m sure on him to provide answers on what’s going on here,” Taylor said.
Laundrie, a skilled outdoorsman, could be out there for “months,” Taylor said.
“I don’t know how frequently if he would come out here and do day-long hikes or whatever, you could be out here for months if you wanted,” Taylor said.
Police said Laundrie was able to slip away because they were not tracking his every movement since he is not a suspect and has not been charged with a crime.
“Were we trying to keep an eye out kind of where he’s at so that when needed we could potentially reach him? Yes. But our focus was putting resources on trying to find Gabby,” Taylor said, describing Laundrie’s disappearance as “certainly a twist.”
Taylor said that Friday’s meeting with the family was only to discuss their son’s disappearance, not Petito’s.
The FBI Denver seemed to be narrowing the focus of its search for 22-year-old Petito near a campsite at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.