William and Charlene Guthrie, who live across the street from the Laundrie family home in North Port, claimed they saw 23-year-old Brian Laundrie and his parents driving away in a camper attached to their vehicle for what they believed was a weekend camping trip. The couple saw the family loading up the RV on Sept. 11, the same day that Gabby Petito was reported missing.
According to the neighbors – who had only recently moved to North Port earlier this summer – the Laundrie family hooked up the camper to the back of their truck before driving away. The family did not return until the end of the weekend.
“I was doing some work in the front yard and I noticed they got a new camper for the back of the pickup” Charlene Guthrie explained. “I didn’t think anything unusual.”
They continued, claiming that “I saw them loading it up, so I assume they were preparing for a camping trip with their new camper. They were gone for the weekend.”
William and Charlene Guthrie said that they found it odd that both Christopher and Roberta Laundrie would go on a camping trip with their adult son in a tiny camper. The neighbors described the RV as “small,” though it was not clear how small the camper really was.
While they didn’t think anything of the incident at first, William and Charlene Guthrie went to the police after hearing that Brian Laundrie’s long-time girlfriend, Gabby Petito, was reported missing. The neighbors had originally assumed that Petito had come home with Brian Laundrie when he returned from his cross-country trip in early September.
When reports revealed she went missing, the neighbors went to the police regarding the strange camper. They reported that the Laundrie family left their home on the same day that Gabby Petito went missing, and told cops that they didn’t know for sure if Brian Laundrie came home with his parents after the camping trip.
Rebecca Ollier, an executive producer at WINK, tweeted Wednesday that “[neighbors tell] us they saw #BrianLaundrie on September 11th leave the home with his family & the camper attached to the truck. They said it happened before the police got the van. They don’t know if he came back. When I asked North Port Police, that tip was sent to the FBI.”
Theories followed beneath the tweet, with readers wondering whether the Laundrie family was helping their son flee the police and stay hidden while investigators conducted their search. Though Brian Laundrie was reported missing on Sept. 17, some questioned whether he really disappeared during that Sept. 11 camping trip.
“Has anyone actually seen him since Gabby was reported missing?” one person responded to Rebecca Ollier’s tweet. “All I recall is seeing his parents & his lawyer saying they weren’t talking. Everyone assumes he was home & then went to that reserve for a hike. Maybe he was long gone since 9/11 with the camper & parents are lying.”
Another theory presented a different angle, pointing out that “parents and son Brian Laundrie left on Sept 11th (day Gabby was reported missing by her parents). Parents tell authorities they hadn’t seen their son since Sept 14th?! equals = They took him somewhere (to hide)! He didn’t return with them!”
While the North Port Police Department has not made a formal comment regarding these accusations, the department did make a statement on Friday of last week, explaining that “we understand the community’s frustration, we are frustrated too.”
The statement continued: “For six days the North Port Police Department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian’s fiancé Gabby Petito. Friday is the first time that they have spoken with investigators in detail.”
Authorities have been searching the nearby Carlton Reserve for clues as to Brian Laundrie’s whereabouts. The Laundrie family has remained silent, save for their Sept. 17 report that their son had gone missing earlier last week. Brian Laundrie was said to have gone on a hike and never returned.
In one of its most recent updates, the North Port Police Department said on Facebook Wednesday that “our search of the Carlton and nearby lands has concluded for the evening. Nothing of note. The current plan is to return Wednesday with a similar operation.”
The search Wednesday also concluded without any noteworthy leads. The police department confirmed Thursday morning that it was continuing its investigation of the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve. “Thursday search for Brian Laundrie in the Carlton beginning,” the North Port Police Department posted on Facebook. As of Thursday afternoon, there have been no further updates.