Could Brian Laundrie still be alive? As the days come and go, the disappearance of the Florida man is becoming lore, and it’s sparking a series of theories, some more grandiose than others.
Authorities have been searching a 25,000-acre nature area called the Carlton Reserve, but they haven’t found Laundrie. His parents claimed that they last saw him on September 13, 2021, when he left home to hike in Carlton Reserve. Since that time, authorities have found the remains of his murdered and once missing girlfriend, Gabby Petito, with whom Laundrie had gone on a cross-country road trip.
In a Reddit poll and thread, more people voted that they think Laundrie is alive than dead. “If it weren’t for his parents seemingly heavy involvement, I’d say dead, but I’m starting to feel like they helped hide him. Although, I can’t imagine him outwitting trained professionals for this long either. I hope he’s found alive. RIP Gabby Petito,” wrote one person. However, Laundrie’s parents have not been accused of wrongdoing by authorities. Some people on the Reddit thread are debating whether Laundrie made it to Mexico or Canada.
“He’s probably in the wilderness hiding out somewhere, which could literally be anywhere in the world with how much time he had in advance to get away,” wrote another person on Reddit.
One theory emerged on Tiktok, arguing that Laundrie might be hiding out in a secret garden bunker in his parents’ backyard in Florida. In the video, Laundrie’s mom picks something out of a backyard garden. Internet sleuths are claiming – without any real evidence – that Laundrie might be hiding out in a bunker underneath the garden.
“@thedcproject #brianlaundrie #foryoupage #brianlaundrieupdate #foryoupage #dirtylaundrie,” the TikTok, by @charlienovasite, is captioned. Laundrie is the missing Florida man whose girlfriend Gabby Petito disappeared while they were on a cross-country van trip for a YouTube series, and then was found dead. Authorities have previously said they consider Laundrie a person of interest in Petito’s murder, but he vanished without speaking to police about her.
Where Brian Laundrie is now is anyone’s guess, but experts who spoke to Fox News are debunking the garden bunker theory. Could he be alive? Although experts don’t think he’s in a garden bunker, no one is quite sure where he is.
It’s possible for a person sought by authorities with massive publicity to survive out in the wild. Consider the case of Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph. He hid from the FBI for five years by hiding in the mountains and was an avid outdoorsman, according to federal authorities.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Carlton Reserve Is Treacherous Terrain
North Port police are helping lead the investigation. They explained that the Carlton Reserve is an “unforgiving location.” As such, it would certainly be possible for a person to lose their life in it – or to take their life there. It’s not clear, though, whether Brian Laundrie is dead or alive.
“The Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. It is currently (waist) deep in water in many areas,” North Port police said in a Facebook post. “This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.”
CNN spoke with an expert named Robert Urban, founder and chief instructor of the Urban Survival Academy. He said he didn’t believe it was likely that someone without professional “survival tactics” could survive for long in Carlton Reserve.
“Florida’s climate is very, very difficult,” Urban told CNN. “I’m an expert with plenty of experience, and it would be everything that I could do to survive for (more) than three weeks. Someone with no experience, you cannot be lucky and survive in that sort of climate.”
According to CNN, another survival expert says Laundrie would need skills and materials to survive, including ways to disinfect water and gather food. He would also probably need to start a fire; North Port police told CNN that authorities have found no evidence that Laundrie was in the Reserve and a rumor that a campsite was found was not true.
CNN’s experts believe that Laundrie is no longer in Carlton Reserve or he is dead. “The longer they spend searching in the reserve, the more I think it was a distraction,” wrote a person on the Reddit thread.
Laundrie’s Sister Says It Wouldn’t Surprise Her ‘If He Could Last Out There a Very Long Time’
Does Laundrie have survival skills? His sister told ABC News he was a “mediocre survivalist.”
“I’d say Brian’s a mediocre survivalist,” she told the outlet. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he could last out there a very long time. But also, I don’t think anything would surprise me at this point.”
A person on Reddit theorized, “I think if he gets eaten by a gator, they’re will still be evidence, his backpack etc, something that puts him there. As for killing himself, I personally think he’s more like to attempt that after he’s caught, because yeah, as of now, I think he’s probably living his, ‘high life’ unfortunately.”
The TikTok Video Shows Both of Laundrie’s Parents by the Small Garden
The TikTok user narrates the video with his questions. “This is the original drone footage. It looks like there is some object, something white being passed up, she takes something in her hand,” he says.
The narrator claims that Laundrie’s mom picks up a white item. “It looks like she hands something off,” he claimed, adding, “There’s something strange going on.”
But Ron Hubbard, CEO of Texas-based Atlas Survival Shelters, told Fox News that the garden bunker theory’s chances of being right was “about zero.” He pointed out that authorities have searched Laundrie’s parents’ property. “They would have figured that out by now,” he told Fox.
Another expert, Gary Lynch, who runs the Rising S Company, told Fox: “The possibility of having a bunker there, his parents having a bunker, is absolutely 100% plausible. However, that being said, it didn’t look anything like if a hand came out of the bunker to me.”
People Were Divided Over the Flower Garden Bunker Theory on Social Media
People on the TikTok comment thread under the video were more divided. “I generally don’t go for things like this but I really do see movement,” wrote one person. “Also, I get this weird feeling. They need to check it out.”
Wrote another person, “Also the way they walk away so quick was like oops we’re busted.”
“Bunker check time,” wrote another. “Yo! Always said they was hiding him!” another person claimed. “That’s a hand poking out! It’s not an object, it moves on its own,” said another person.
“She has a spade in her hand. As much as I’d like to believe this, I think it’s a reflection,” one man said. “My husband works with photography and computers,” wrote a woman. “This can easily happen due to the compression of the video. It does something to the frames.”
Police in North Port, Florida, where Laundrie and Petito lived with his family, are spearheading the investigation and, with the news that Laundrie also has vanished, they’ve launched a massive search effort to find him.
Charles Jones, supervisory resident agent in Wyoming for the FBI, said in a September 19, 2021, press conference, “I would like to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family.”
“FBI personnel in coordination with our partners…have been conducting investigative activity… earlier today human remains were recovered consistent with the description of Gabrielle, Gabby, Petito,” he said.
In the days before Laundrie disappeared – Petito’s family attorney told CNN he’s “hiding,” not missing – police ramped up the public attention on his refusal to speak with them about where she was. Chief Todd Garrison tweeted at Laundrie and his lawyer, “@NPPDPoliceChief Mr. Steven Bertolino, esq. the @NorthPortPolice needs your help in finding Gabby Petito. Please call us to arrange a conversation with Brian Laundrie. Two people left on a trip and one person returned! #wheresgabby #FindGabby #fbitampa #gabbypetito.”
But then he too was gone. That news came after police say Laundrie’s family decided to speak with them in detail.
Petito, 22, of Blue Point, New York, is described by New York authorities as a “white female, approximately 5 feet 5 inches tall and 110 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and several tattoos, including one on her finger and one on her forearm that reads ‘let it be.’ The van she was traveling in has been recovered.” Blue Point is located on Long Island.
The Couple Featured Their Van Trip in a YouTube Series
The couple’s YouTube series was called “VAN LIFE | Beginning Our Van Life Journey.” One of their videos has more than 145,000 views.
It’s eight minutes long and shows the couple walking on a beach together. They appear close in the video, which shows them together during various travels. It then shows them on the road. They kiss in one scene; they’re eating sushi in the next. In one frame, they’re in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. In another, they watch the sunset together on the beach.
They do cartwheels on the beach in front of an amusement park and ride a ferris wheel together before kissing some more.
Their YouTube Channel, called Nomadic Statik, has more than 1.37 million users. The van life video is their only video.
“A glimpse into our van adventures! After our first cross country trip in a little Nissan Sentra, we both decided we to wanted downsize our lives and travel full time, but trying to fit everything for two people into the tiny little trunk of the car, also spending way too much on gas, food, and airbnb, was not the road to take,” the page says.
“We quickly realized we had to come up with a solution if we wanted to continue traveling and living nomadically, so that’s why we handcrafted our own tiny van, a simple 2012 Ford transit connect, utilizing space with unique designs and features. Creating a space for both artistic expression and distance hiking. Thank you so much for watching, and we hope you tag along on our journey wherever the van takes us!”
They added: “Follow our van life journey for some awesome van life ideas, tips, hacks, camping spots, and so many beautiful places to travel!”
The couple also had a website and a blog. The website, captioned Brian & Gabby, is password protected and sends readers back to the YouTube page.