Meanwhile, a former sheriff's deputy has come forward with another weird Laundrie encounter.
update 9/28/2021 8:58 AM
Brian Laundrie's parents insist they do not know where he is — and deny they had anything to do with his disappearance.
"Chris and Roberta Laundrie do not know where Brian is," family attorney Steven Bertolino said in a statement Monday night. "They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him."
"The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong."
Meanwhile, a Louisiana former sheriff's deputy who was on a road trip to Montana has come forward with another possible Brian Laundrie encounter — the day before Gabby was last seen alive.
Hunter Mannies told the New York Post he and a doctor friend saw a man matching the description — also named Brian from New York — drinking alone at Bullwinkle's Saloon in West Yellowstone on the night of August 26.
There were only five people in the bar, including another physician and her partner, with whom they struck up a conversation — into which the lone man inserted himself. "He was just mad at the world it seemed like," Mannies recalled. "I didn't pay attention to him other than that he and this other couple were the only ones in there."
He said the foursome were chatting about guns and politics, when he suddenly realized the man was listening in. "The guy just looked mad and then at some lull in the conversation, he said, 'Stupid southerners and f---ing Republicans.'"
"'Stupid southerners?'" Mannies friend shot back. "'She and I both have 'Dr.' in front of our names. Do you?'"
Mannies added: "I kind of laughed and said, 'Well, where are you from?' and he said, 'New York. And I said, 'Okay, New York' and he said, 'I have a name, it's Brian.'"
"I said, 'Let me ask you this, New York. What did you expect to find in a small mountain town in the middle of nowhere Montana? Did you expect to find a bunch of Democrats?"
That was the last they spoke to him, but Mannies said they got a weird vide from him for the rest of the evening.
"He was overly invested in our conversation. We felt watched. He wasn't talking to the bartenders. He was there alone. It just stood out as odd," he said, claiming his doctor friend described the man as having "that serial killer look."
Bullwinkle's Saloon, just across the Montana/Wyoming state line, is about three hours drive north from the Spread Creek camping area, where van-lifer Jessica Schultz claims she spotted Laundrie alone with his van that same day.
Mannies said he and his friend discussed the "odd" encounter over the next few days; when news of Gabby's disappearance broke, the friend called him and said: "That's the crazy guy from the bar."
Mannies, who has since spoken to the FBI about the encounter, is also convinced it was Laundrie.
"Just the way he carried himself and I heard his voice, it was him," he said. "How many people named Brian from New York who look exactly like him are in the middle nowhere at the bar?"
update 9/27/2021 8:53 AM
After a week of fruitless hunting in the Carlton Reserve, police are no longer concentrating the search for Brian Laundrie there.
"I don't think you're going to see those large scale types of efforts this week," North Port Police Department spokesman Josh Taylor told Fox News. "The FBI is now leading the search. I'm told, It will be scaled back and targeted based on intelligence. Hopefully, water will lower in areas hard to currently access."
Meanwhile, a Florida rancher with more than 30-years experience in the reserve who has been assisting police with the search, insisted there is no way Laundrie survived this long in there — if indeed that's where went.
"There's no surviving out here, I don't know how to say it," Alan McEwen told the outlet. "I've been in the woods in and out all my life … I have learned a lot in my life, and one thing I know is no one is gonna survive out there for two weeks on foot."
On top of the deadly alligators, panthers, black bears, wild boars and snakes prowling the reserve, there's also the insects to contend with: "Unless he's got a hide like a gator, the mosquitoes will carry him right off," McEwen said.
Even the topography is potentially deadly, he warned, as the thick brush hides precipitous falls into ditches or off ledges. Not to mention the reserve has been flooded by weeks of torrential rain since Laundrie supposedly hiked in there.
"Unless he's got a butt like a duck and can float, he's not in there," the rancher added.
While McEwen is skeptical Laundrie is alive and hiding around the swamp, he is equally skeptical he died in there. "Anything dead you find in the woods, you're gonna look up, you're gonna see buzzards flying like crazy," he said. "No buzzards, no body is my theory. And I haven't seen any buzzards flying."
Laundrie's parents told police their son hiked into the Carlton Reserve almost two weeks ago; considering the obvious dangers, McEwen is also puzzled as to why they aren't also searching for him.
"I'd be out there right now looking for them – if that's where I thought he was," the father-of-five said. "I couldn’t imagine having a child missing like this. I would go nuts. I wouldn't be out mowing my lawn, I could promise you that. That's the last place I'd be."
update 9/24/2021 8:35 AM
A second woman has come forward claiming she picked up a hitchhiking Brian Laundrie.
Norma Jean Jalovec told Fox News she only realized who she had in her car after watching the TikTok posted by Miranda Baker (pictured), who says she had dropped him off that same day, just minutes beforehand.
Jalovec said she spontaneously decided to visit the Chapel of the Sacred Heart for a 5 PM church service on August 29, which is just over a mile away from where Laundrie reportedly jumped out of Baker's vehicle.
At around 6.15 PM, Jalovec was driving past the dam near Pacific Creek Landing in her Toyota 4Runner, when she said she spotted the man, walking backward and holding out his thumb. "I picked him up…" Jelovec said. "… Something just said, 'Hey, ask him where he's going.'"
Climbing into the passenger seat, he asked Jelovec if she was going to Jackson; she told him no, she lived in the opposite direction, but she agreed to drop him off at the Spread Creek dispersed camping area.
Amid small talk, he allegedly said he'd been hiking near Snake River, offered gas money, and mentioned he had a fiancé.
But as they approached the gate of the remote campground, at the top of the dirt road extending for miles to the various campsites, he asked to be let off there; when Jelovec offered to drive him inside, he tried to "get out of the moving car," she said.
Jalovec said she joked that Laundrie was trying to impress his fiancé by claiming he hiked to the campsite rather than hitching a ride; he responded by once again insisting to be let out of the vehicle.
"I can't explain why I was there," she said of her decision to both visit the church and pick up a hitchhiker. "It was something I don't typically do. I don't pick up hitchhikers in Florida. I've gotten so much s--- from family and friends for picking up a hitchhiker."
Jelovec brought her story to the FBI, only realizing the significance of the interaction after watching the original TikTok posted by Baker, who claims she dropped him off right before Jelovec picked him up.
Waiting for your permission to load TikTok Post.
Baker told a similar story; however, she and her boyfriend were going to Jackson, yet she said Laundrie made a similarly abrupt exit after "freaking out" in the car:
"He approached us asking us for a ride because he needed to go to Jackson, which we were going to Jackson that night. I said hop in. He hops in the back of my Jeep. We then proceeded to make small talk," she said.
"Before he came into the car he offered to pay us like, $200 to give him a ride, like 10 miles. So that was kind of weird. He then told us he's been camping for multiple days without his fiancée. He did say he had a fiancée, and that she was working on their social media page back at their van."
"In conversation, I brought up that we're going to Jackson. He freaked out. He's like 'nope, I need to get out right now, you know, pull over.' So we pulled over at the Jackson Dam. It's not very far from Colter Bay."
After her "hurried" out of the car at 6.09 PM, he told them he was going to find someone else to hitchhike with. "It was a weird situation," she said.
Baker said that while Laundrie had beard scruff, he didn't look or smell dirty for someone who claimed to have been camping for several days. "So that part was kind of weird," she said.
Waiting for your permission to load TikTok Post.
On Thursday, the FBI finally issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie — not for fiancée's homicide, but for Use of Unauthorized Access Devices.
Investigators claim he used a Capital One Bank debit card that did not belong to him between August 30 to September 1 to purchase items totaling at least $1,000. They did not say what he bought, or to whom the card belonged.
Despite the apparent pettiness of the crime, prosecutors requested Laundrie be held without bail before his trial, "because he's a danger to the community", according to TMZ, suggesting they also suspect him of a crime far more serious.
Meanwhile, Moab City Police Department has announced it will launch an independent probe into how its officers handled Brian and Gabby's now infamous August 12 domestic dispute, which ultimately saw both of them go free, just days before Gabby would be killed.