Gabby Petito family says fiancé is 'hiding' as police search for Brian Laundrie

NORTH PORT, FLA. (1010 WINS) -- The family of Gabby Petito claim her fiancé is "hiding" as the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie are "currently unknown" after an attorney and police said Friday night that he was last seen by his parents Tuesday morning.

"Brian is not missing. He is hiding. Gabby is missing. For Brian's family and his attorney to put Brian in the same situation is reprehensible," Petito family lawyer Richard Stafford said in a statement overnight.

Just before 11:30 p.m. Friday, the North Port Police Department tweeted that they are searching for Laundrie, with the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

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"The attorney for the Laundrie family called FBI investigators Friday night indicating the family would like to talk about the disappearance of their son," the statement read. "The family now claims that they have not seen Brian since Tuesday of this week."

Family attorney Stephen Bertolino in an earlier statement had said that the FBI was at the Laundrie residence removing property to assist in finding Brian, adding "the FBI is now looking for both Gabby and Brian."

The police though took aim at Laundrie's family for being uncooperative with officials.

"We understand the community's frustration, we are frustrated too," police stated. "For six days, the North Port Police Department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian's fiancée Gabby Petito. Friday is the first time they have spoken with investigators in detail."

Police noted that while Laundrie is a person of interest in Petito's disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime.

"We are not currently working a crime investigation. We are now working a multiple missing person investigations," the department said.

Police released a description of Laundrie in their statement — he is 5'8" tall, 160 pounds with brown eyes, short brown hair, trimmed facial hair and was last seen wearing a hiking bag with a waist strap.

"The North Port Police Department is actively looking for Gabby, Brian, and any information surrounding this case. Please continue to utilize 1-800-CALL-FBI," the department advised.

Police in Florida met for hours with the Laundrie family at their home Friday night.

Officers left the home just before 9 p.m., and did not bring anyone with them, nor did they speak to reporters or address the raucous crowd waiting outside. The North Port police chief soon after tweeted:

"The conversation at the Laundrie home is complete. Once we have the details, a statement will be made. We ask for calm!"

North Port Police said they spoke with the Laundrie family at their request, and did not speak with Brian. It was not revealed until after they left the home that Brian was missing.

Crowds that gathered outside the home demanded Brian come outside, and chanted "Where is Gabby?" A police officer addressed the crowd just before 8:30 p.m. and asked them to stay calm, but chants continued during and after.

Earlier in the evening, police were seen quickly looking through a vehicle in the driveway. Officers were also seen grabbing what appeared to be evidence bags at one point.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Friday confirming Petito’s case isn’t connected to the deaths of Crystal Turner and Kylen Schulte.

Turner and Schulte were last seen leaving a bar in Moab, Utah on Aug. 13, and their bodies were found on Aug. 18 at a campsite near the town, the Associated Press reports. It was the same city where 22-year-old Petito and fiancé Brian Laundrie were involved in a dispute that prompted a witness to call police.

On Thursday, the Grand County sheriff said they would look into any possibility of a connection between the two cases.

The office said it was in contact with the North Port Police Department, which is leading the investigation into the disappearance.

Schulte and Turner, who were found partially undressed with multiple gunshot wounds all over their bodies, had told friends they feared a “creepy man” they had seen nearby might harm them.

In July, Petito and Laundrie embarked on their cross-country “van life” trip from Long Island, where they both grew up, and were aiming to arrive in Oregon on Halloween.

The road trip ultimately ended in Petito’s disappearance and with Laundrie at his parent’s Florida home declining to speak with police.

Police in Moab released bodycam video showing officers responding to the altercation between Petito and Laundrie near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, about two weeks before she was last seen.

During the incident, Laundrie told police that the couple's months-long travels had created an "emotional strain" and "increased the number of arguments" between them, according to a police report.

Ultimately, the officers decided there was not enough evidence to press charges in the case. Neither of the two had asked for charges to be filed either, according to police.

As the search continues, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said Thursday that no criminality was suspected in the case “at this time.”

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