The search for Brian Petito has not been going well.
Last Friday, his parents told investigators he had gone for a hike in the Carlton Reserve, a swampland near their home in North Port, Florida. In the days since this has gone from a missing persons case to homicide after the discovery of his girlfriend Gabby Petito‘s body. And he has gone from being a person of interest to having a warrant out for his arrest (albeit for using her debit card after her death and not for her murder).
With just the publicly known facts — not to mention the massive viral interest in the case — it makes sense the FBI and local police would pull out all the stops to find him. But according to a search and rescue expert speaking to DailyMail.com, the cost of that venture is a lot more than you might expect. Just six days in, and the search has reportedly cost a whopping $1.2 million!
Former LA County Sheriff’s deputy Mike Hadsell, who runs his own search and rescue team in Sarasota, Florida, told the outlet:
“I can accurately estimate they are spending $200,000 a day on this search.”
Why so much?
Well, the Carlton Reserve is a 25,000 square mile swamp, full of “gator and snake-infested” waters. The effort has required special boats and dive teams, not to mention the countless hours of overtime.
And to think, they could have saved all that money by springing for a single unit to keep tabs on the guy. We mean, he was a person of interest in a crime! How is it they didn’t keep a single cop car parked outside his place?? Instead of a stakeout, we have to hear from neighbors after the fact that he and his family allegedly went on a secret “camping trip” in the days after he returned home in his girlfriend’s van all alone.
Sounds kind of fishy, right? Unfortunately we have nothing to go on but their word that Brian even went to the Carlton Reserve. So… what if they’re lying about where he is? Covering for him while he gets a bigger and bigger head start on the feds?
Well, according to Hadsell, they could theoretically be forced to foot the bill for the whole operation! That’s a tab we doubt Christopher and Roberta Laundrie could even cover. So if they are protecting their son, it could ruin more than their reputations.
That’s the way Hadsell expects this to go; he doesn’t think there’s much chance Brian was ever in the swamp. Why?
“Any time he would move, especially in the Carlton, he would leave trails because you sink in the mud. There would be evidence that somebody has been moving through there. And any K9 will pick that up. So far I’ve heard they’ve found none of that. If that’s true, then Laundrie’s probably not there.”
The other option is that Brian did go hiking there — but is never coming out. Hadsell explained:
“I’m very familiar with that reserve. It’s like searching in Jurassic Park. It is a hostile and challenging environment — utterly brutal. It’s full of alligators, aggressive and highly-poisonous snakes, just about everything. There are lots of things in there that want to eat you or just kill you.”
What about the claims Laundrie is a skilled survivalist who’s lived off the grid for weeks at a time? Hadsell isn’t impressed:
“Even if Laundrie was an experienced survivalist, the chances of him being able to stay out there this long are very slim. It would be extremely hard to survive as long as this search has been going on. I doubt he would survive more than two to three days because of the dangers of the swamp, the alligators, the snakes and the bugs.”
Do YOU think they’ll ever find him? Or is this a very, very expensive wild goose chase??
[Image via Gabby Petito/Brian Laundrie/Instagram]