Petito has been missing for almost a month: Her mother, Nicole Schmidt, last reported speaking with her daughter on Aug. 25, and the family filed a missing person’s report on Sept. 11. Police named Brian Laundrie, Petito’s fiancé, a person of interest this week as the search for Petito intensified.
Police entered Laundrie’s home Friday night, at which point Laundrie’s parents told officers they had not seen their son since Tuesday.
Williams, an attorney and former detective in Washington, D.C., told Fox News that the police likely know more than they are saying if they entered the home.
“Law enforcement knows a great deal more than they’re letting on about Gabby and her going missing at this stage,” Williams said. “I suspect law enforcement suspect there is foul play afoot here, so they’re trying to keep a close eye on Brian at this stage.”
Since Laundrie is a person of interest, the police would not – and could not – restrict his movements. Williams noted that even if Laundrie was a suspect, the police could not necessarily restrict his movements.
Normally, the police would need to speak to Laundrie’s lawyer for permission to see or speak with him, but once officers obtain a warrant they can act as needed without consultation.
“It is more likely than not that they’ve gotten a search warrant to search that home,” Williams explained. “If someone who is in charge at home voluntarily let them in, then they can conduct a search. It is more likely than not that the authorities got a search warrant and are searching that home.”
“They do not under any circumstances, once they get a warrant, need to talk to Brian’s lawyer,” Williams stressed.
Police initially entered the home at 6:20 p.m. Friday with what appeared to be an evidence envelope and returned two hours later with a bag. Authorities left the property just before 9 p.m.
Police have continued to stress that Laundrie is not a suspect.
“It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime,” North Port police said in Friday’s statement. It added that the investigation is now a “multiple missing person” case.
However, Petito’s family has insisted that Laundrie is not missing, but is in fact ‘hiding.’
“All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing,” the law office of Richard B. Stafford, attorney for the Petito and Schmidt families, said in a statement.
Williams speculated that Laundrie could have gone to lay low at a friend’s home, given the intense media and public attention on the case and presence outside his parents’ home.