May 27, 2024

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Gabby Petito Case: Brian Laundrie search sparks comparisons to Eric Rudolph manhunt

The search for fugitive Brian Laundrie has drawn comparisons to similar manhunts for criminals who tried to evade the FBI and authorities – and one who succeeded for years. 

Laundrie and Gabby Petito, his fiancée, left New York on a cross-country road trip in July and documented their journey west on YouTube and Instagram before Laundrie returned home to Florida alone on Sept. 1. Petito was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11, and Laundrie’s parents reported him missing on Sept. 17.  

The FBI took over the search for Laundrie after authorities in Wyoming found Petito’s body on Sunday. Now, six days later, agents continue to search the 25,000 acre Carlton Reserve wilderness area near North Port, Florida, where Laundrie’s family claim he was last seen. 

BRIAN LAUNDRIE SEARCH: NORTH PORT POLICE UNDER FIRE AS GABBY PETITO PERSON OF INTEREST REMAINS ELUSIVE

The lack of progress, and the possibility that Laundrie is living off the land in the wilderness, has prompted comparisons to past criminals – most notably, Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber. 

Brian Laundrie

Brian Laundrie
(North Port Police)

Rudolph set off bombs in Atlanta and Birmingham between 1996 and 1998, killing two and injuring hundreds, according to the FBI. The search for Rudolph lasted five years as he took refuge in the Appalachian mountains, living off the land until police found him rummaging through a trash can behind a grocery store in Murphy, North Carolina. 

As the public becomes critical of the police hunt, some people wonder how long Laundrie can survive in the reserve. 

GABBY PETITO CASE: WHERE COULD BRIAN LAUNDRIE BE 10 DAYS AFTER SLIPPING AWAY?

“They should be searching Appalachian Trail,” one Twitter user stressed. “Brian bragged to co-worker how he survived there on own for 3 months. Pinhoti, which connects to AT is 3hr drive from Dirty Laundrie house. Brian, as a survivalist fanatic, surely knows about Eric Rudolph who evaded LE for 5yrs in AT.” 

“My gut instinct tells Laundrie is trying to hide like Olympic Park Bomber Eric Rudolph or taken his own life,” another user said

“Eric Rudolph disappeared for years after bombing doctor clinics and killing several people. He knew how to live off the land. There were people who helped him by providing food, etc,” one user explained. “Laundrie seems to fancy himself as a survivalist and superior to everyone else in the outdoors.”

GABBY PETITO DISAPPEARANCE SHINES LIGHT ON STILL-UNSOLVED MISSING PERSONS CASES

Laundrie’s “survivalist” background has garnered significant attention as the search drags on, with some reports covering how he “bragged” about “only having a large pack of either cheese or peanut butter crackers to sustain him” as he spent six weeks in the woods, according to The New York Post

“He is well-versed in spending a long time in the woods and living off nearly nothing,” an unnamed former work colleague of Laundrie’s told the Post. 

However, some people find the comparison to Rudolph to be either overblown or an omen of ultimate failure. 

“If I learned anything as a North Carolina native growing up in the age of Eric Rudolph, it’s that Brian Laundrie will – at some point – become desperate enough that he makes yet more mistakes and gets caught,” one Twitter user noted

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Yet another dismissed the various reports of Laundrie’s survivalist background, instead comparing him less-favorably to another wanted man who did not last long in his own manhunt. 

“I think this is a waste of time, having thought he’d be in the Reserve last week because he’d brought #GabbyPetito‘s body back in the van,” a Twitter user argued. “Loser #Laundrie is no Eric Rudolph. More an Andrew Cunanan, hiding in a shed, RV, boat or empty house.”

Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.