Neighbours claim Laundries went camping when son returned from trip with Gabby Petito

File: Brian Laundrie during a police stop in Utah on 12 August 2021 (AP)

Shortly after Brian Laundrie returned home without Gabby Petito on 1 September, his family took a weekend camping trip, their neighbours in North Port, Florida, have said.

Charlene and William Guthrie said they saw the Laundries attaching a new camper to their pickup truck and go out of their house on the same weekend the police came looking for a lead in a missing persons case. The Guthries were unaware of Ms Petito’s disappearance at that time.

“I saw them doing some work. And then when they prepared for their trip, I saw them loading the camper,” Mr Guthrie said, according to Fox News.

Mr Guthrie, who saw them preparing the camper while he was doing some yard work, said he found it odd that the three went off on a camping trip in such a small vehicle.

The Laundries’ trip was reportedly around the time when the search for the now deceased Ms Petito intensified. The police were looking for her partner Brian Laundrie, who had gone with her on a nearly two-month-long road trip.

Mr Guthrie said he did not know that the camper he saw outside the Laundrie home belonged to Petito, and assumed that it was the younger man’s.

Mr Laundrie, who is not a suspect in the death of Petito but a “person of interest”, had returned alone from the trip in the Ford camper van owned by his fiancé.

Remains believed to belong to Petito were located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming on 19 September. An autopsy confirmed that it was Ms Petito.

The search for Mr Laundrie, meanwhile, has intensified in Florida’s 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve, where he is suspected to have gone after returning home for a brief period. The police officials have roped in dive teams and boats to assist in the search.

The couple had left their Florida home in early July for a road trip spanning 2,328 miles and several national parks, before the two reportedly got into fights and had to be separated by the police officials in Utah.

Ms Petito’s family went on a frantic search for their daughter after they stopped receiving texts from her and the 22-year-old did not make it back home with Mr Laundrie. Ms Petito’s mother last spoke to her on 25 August.

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