Law enforcement officials are under fire for their efforts in the case of Gabby Petito, who disappeared last month while on a trip with her boyfriend through western U.S. national parks.
With authorities tragically announcing late Sunday they believe they have found the woman’s body, police are being criticized for letting the boyfriend “slip through their fingers” because they didn’t monitor him.
The boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, had been named as a person of interest in the 22-year-old’s mysterious disappearance, and police were searching for him on Sunday in an alligator-infested Florida nature reserve after he disappeared while on a hike.
They have now called off a search, saying they have “exhausted all avenues,” the Daily Mail reported. Monday morning, FBI agents stormed Laundrie’s North Port, Florida, home and held his parents in a parked police van in the driveway
Agents wearing bullet-proof vests descended on the house before 10 a.m., shouting “Search warrant!” before entering through an unlocked door in the front, according to the New York Post.
“Get behind the tape. This is now an active crime scene,” an agent warned the media outside.
More from the British tabloid on the raid:
FBI agents and police moved into the Laundrie house in force around 9.40 am this morning.
Five vehicles turned up with officers pouring out after the house was suddenly taped off with yellow police line tape. Shouts of “search warrant” could be heard.
Laundries parents were taken swiftly out of the home and into a black propel carrier. FBI agents lined up outside the door before heading in at speed.
One officer said to onlookers: “Stand back. It’s for your own safety.”
The press has been camped out in front of the home for days and the Denver FBI delivered the grim news Sunday that they may have found Petito’s body, ramping up the media frenzy.
Questions continue to swirl about what role Laundrie, her fiancé, may have played in her disappearance; he returned alone to Florida and has refused to cooperate with law enforcement.
Ed Gavin, an expert in missing person cases, told the Daily Mail that police “should’ve immediately placed him under surveillance. Immediately.”
A retired New York City police officer was also quoted saying as much.
“You always have to try to build a case and if it means surveillance to see where he’s going or what he’s doing … then you do that,” the officer told the tabloid. “You don’t need a search warrant to surveil somebody.”
Laundrie, 23, may hold the key to unlocking the mystery of what happened to Petito, but he was last seen on Tuesday when he went on a hike but never returned, leading to the search of the T. Mabry Carlton Reserve near Venice, Fla, where he often hiked.
The huge park contains nearly 25,000 acres of dense foliage and swampy terrain.
“It’s muddy, it’s wet, there are a few unpaved dirt roads that are out there basically running along the power lines. It’s a place that people hike, there are mountain biking trails out there,” North Port Police Department spokesman Josh Taylor said.
Petito’s body was reportedly found at the Spread Creek campground in Bridger-Teton National Forest on the eastern edge of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Red White & Bethune vloggers are credited with the tip that led to the discovery.
While driving through the Spread Creek Dispersed camping area, the video bloggers came across the white van with Florida plates on August 27, and notified the FBI when they realized during editing that it was Petito’s van.
August 27 was just days after Petito last spoke with her mother.
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