Gabby Petito’s boyfriend, who the police have sought for six days in connection with the 22-year-old travel blogger’s death during their cross-country road trip, was charged on Thursday with fraudulently using her bank debit card.
A search warrant was issued for Brian Laundrie (23) after a grand jury in US District Court in Wyoming indicted him on a single count of unlawfully using the card and Ms. Petito’s identification number. He was not charged with her death.
“While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circuMs. tances of Ms. Petito’s homicide,” FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said in a statement.
“We urge individuals with knowledge of Mr. Laundrie’s involvement in this matter or his current whereabouts to contact the FBI.”
The indictment accuses Mr. Laundrie of spending $1,000 (€854) or more on the card between August 30 and September 1.
Ms. Petito was last seen alive on August 24. Investigators appear to believe she was killed some time from August 27 to 30. Americans have followed the case closely in the media since Ms. Petito was reported missing by her mother, Nicole Schmidt, on September 11.
Ten days earlier, Mr. Laundrie returned home to North Port, Florida, without her road trip.
On Sunday, Ms. Petito’s body was discovered near the remote Spread Creek Dispersed Campground in Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. The coroner’s investigators have ruled her death a homicide but have not revealed the cause of death.
Police and FBI agents using divers, tracking dogs, and helicopters have been searching for Mr. Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve wilderness area near North Port since last Friday when his parents told them he had gone there to hike three days earlier.
Search teaMs. Ended a sixth day of searching the alligator-infested wilderness as darkness fell on Thursday, saying they would resume the search yesterday.
The FBI on Thursday asked for information from members of the public who may have had contact with Mr. Laundrie or Ms. Petito at the Spread Creek Dispersed Campground from August 27 to 30.
Ms. Petito’s remains were found less than 300 meters from where, on the evening of August 27, another pair of travel bloggers caught video images of the couple’s 2012 white Ford Transit van parked along a dirt road.
Ms. Petito, documenting the couple’s “van life” road trip on social media, posted her final photo to Instagram on August 25, the same day she last spoke to her mother by phone.
The family believes the couple was headed to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming at the time.
According to investigators, Ms. Schmidt received text messages from Ms. Petito’s phone on August 27 and August 30 but suspected that someone other than her daughter sent them.
In one text, Ms. Petito’s grandfather is referred to by his first name, which Ms. Schmidt says was out of character for her daughter.
The second message said only “No service in Yosemite,” the national park in California that Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie are not believed to have visited during their trip.