PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla: It looks like Dog the Bounty Hunter is making some real headway in his hunt for Brian Laundrie. The reality TV star and a crew of K9s have reportedly come across a fresh makeshift campsite near the park where the missing fugitive camped with his parents weeks ago.
Dog, whose real name is Duane Lee Chapman, found a fresh Monster Energy Ultra Gold can at the site deep in the woods of Shell Island off the coast of Florida near Fort De Soto Park, where Laundrie is said to have stayed the night with his parents just days after returning from a cross country road trip without his fiancee, Gabby Petito. According to Fox News, the can has no signs of rust or faded colors, indicating it had only recently been discarded.
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The can has not been definitively linked to Laundrie at the time of writing, but the discovery came on Wednesday, September 29, when Chapman arrived at the location with a crew and a team of K9s to determine whether Laundrie was canoeing around the area to elude capture following the disappearance and death of his 22-year-old fiancee.
"We're out here at the island," Chapman said in a Wednesday video as he dispatched from Fort De Soto Park, where he suspected the outdoorsman, 23, could possibly be hiding. "This would be and could be a perfect spot for him to hide. Not too many people out here, but there's a lot of environmental things we're gonna fight... The search now is really on," he added.
The former TV host and bail bondsman believes that Fort De Soto Park in Florida's Pinellas County is prime territory to look for Laundrie. "Dog and team are still searching an island near Fort De Soto Park in Pinellas County, Florida," an Instagram post stated. "K-9 teams have been brought in to assist," the post noted, adding that search teams would continue their efforts "into the evening."
Chapman joined the nationwide manhunt for Laundrie earlier this week. He claimed on Tuesday that a tipster had informed him the fugitive was likely in the park. Laundrie and his parents Chris and Roberta stayed at a campsite in the park on September 6, shortly after he returned alone from his road trip in Petito's Ford Transit van. Her murdered remains were later found in Wyoming.
Laundrie's parents reported him missing on September 17, three days after he allegedly told them he was going hiking at the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota but failed to return. Chapman has maintained that he believes Laundrie never left Fort De Soto with his parents when they checked out of the camp on September 8. The bounty hunter arrived Wednesday morning at the park with a crack team of investigators to scour the area.
FBI agents begin to take away evidence from the family home of Brian Laundrie, who is a person of interest after his fiancé Gabby Petito went missing on September 20, 2021, in North Port, Florida. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
Dog's claim has been dismissed by the family's attorney, but campers at Fort De Soto reportedly told The Sun it is possible Laundrie is lurking nearby. "It's scary but realistic," Amanda Smith, who has been staying at the campsite since Sunday, told the newspaper. "We actually were just looking at some of the mangroves out there and it's very thick. You'd have to be skilled which apparently he is in the outdoors but you could for sure hide in them, and this is a good location in terms of being close to things but also being able to kind of get away at the same time," she explained.