BRIAN Laundrie is alive and on the run in the Appalachian Trail after receiving help to escape, a private investigator claims.
Bill Warner branded Laundrie a "mastermind" for leaving behind his wallet, ID, driver's license, and credit cards, claiming the 23-year-old appeared "well aware of law enforcement tracking techniques."
Warner has operated his private investigation business in Sarasota, Florida – close to where the search for Laundrie is underway – for 25 years and called Gabby Petito's death the "most interesting case I've ever seen."
"This is usually what people on the run do," he exclusively told The Sun on Thursday about Laundrie's disappearance.
"They just go dark, hide everything. They don't take a car, they don't take a phone. They don't take any ID, but they can't be identified."
Brian Laundrie has now been missing for more than two weeks.
He was reported missing by his parents on September 17, three days after they last saw him.
They claimed that he went for a hike in the Carlton Reserve on September 14 but never returned.
His parents drove the car he used back to their house the day before reporting him missing and it emerged on Wednesday that he purchased a burner phone on the last day he was seen.
Laundrie left this phone behind him.
Read our Brian Laundrie live blog for the very latest news and updates…
Law enforcement is currently searching the Carlton Reserve after Laundrie's parents voiced concern he could harm himself.
Dog the Bounty Hunter also joined the search on Saturday and has focused on Fort De Soto Park, some 75 miles away, after claiming to have received a tip.
The TV star has been out on foot hunting Laundrie and surveillance footage from the park has been handed over to law enforcement.
Laundrie visited the park earlier this month with his parents but the family's lawyer has hit out at claims he remained there when his parents returned.
While the search of the Carlton Resereve and Fort De Soto continues, Warner believes Laundrie is more likely to be on the Appalachian trail, where he had also previously visited with Gabby.
Warner said that there is the possibility that "he's dead in the Carlton Reserve, that he went in there to kill himself.
"But that doesn't seem to be true either. Because they've searched through every inch of the Carlton Reserve for over a week and they found nothing, even when there were dogs.
"If you're on the run, you want to go someplace you feel comfortable with, someplace you've been before, someplace you may be able to get help," he said.
'BRIAN'S AN ELITE HIKER'
"He knows where all the little places are to camp out [on the Appalachian Trail]. It's it just makes sense.
"Brian has expertise. He's an elite hiker right up his alley.
"Once you're up there and you're on a trail, it's easy to hike. It's a good time to go there. It's the fall. It's not cold, it's not hot. And you have shade, you have spring water to drink.
"It's a very difficult case because he did all the right things for a guy on the run," Warner added. "He ghosted himself."
"But now you have to rely on witnesses a lot or somebody who's reliable for information to start a hunt again."
Warner slammed Dog the Bounty Hunter as a "misdirection" with his focus on Fort De Soto.
He explained how a neighbor had seen Laundrie outside of his family home after the dates he was accused of visiting the park and not returning.
"I don't know, I don't think the law enforcement really is biting on what he's giving out yet," Warner said.
"I hope not because it's going to cost a lot of money."
He also slammed other sightings which have claimed to have spotted Laundrie as far away and Canada and Mexico.
"Brian has a very common look," Warner said.
"Most of the guys I know in Florida look like that. They have the receding hairline, they're thin, they have the beard and a little mustache.
"First of all, you can't leave the country," he continued.
"After 9/11, there are big restrictions on going across the border. You have to have a verifiable ID from a government agency with a picture on it.
"He doesn't have that right now. He doesn't have the resources to leave the country."
Warner said he believes Laudrine is "in the United States somewhere most likely the Appalachian Trail but there's no way to track him up there at this point.
"This is a difficult case he looks just too much like everybody else. He doesn't have any ID, it's a real problem."
BRIAN GETTING HELP
Warner also believes that someone else has been involved in helping Laundrie disappear.
It comes after reports an "older woman" was with him when he purchased the burner phone.
Yet he claimed that Laundrie is still "doing these things that experienced criminal would do.
"He knows to do all these things: turn the phones off, destroy the phones, don't communicate, get a lawyer immediately when he comes back on September 1, including his parents," Warner said.
"These are all criminal things.
"How does he know how to do this.
"He's only 23 years old, he doesn't have prior experience with being a criminal. And all of a sudden, he's a mastermind."
LAUNDRIE 'AT RISK'
Warner recommended that Laundrie turn himself in as his " safety is at risk here” as he claimed the FBI search will never end now there's a warrant out for his arrest.
Laundrie is not currently considered a suspect in Gabby's murder but has been cited as a person of interest.
He is also wanted on a warrant for alleged bank fraud after running up $1,000 in charges on a debit card that’s believed to have belonged to Gabby.
The couple was around two months into their planned four-month cross-country road trip touring the US’ national parks before Gabby vanished sometime around August 27.
Brian quietly returned home to Florida alone on September 1, failing to alert police or Gabby’s family that she was missing.
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