Brian Laundrie has been missing for 29 days. Survival experts say he's had help, he's blending in, or he's dead.

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Brian Laundrie has been missing for 29 days. Survival experts say he's had help, he's blending in, or he's dead.
Brian Laundrie talking to officers with the Moab City Police Department, Utah, on August 12 2021. Moab City Police Department
  • Brian Laundrie has been missing for a month. His parents say they last saw him on September 13.
  • He's a person of interest in the death of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, whose body was found in Wyoming.

For the past 29 days, Brian Laundrie has evaded authorities' attempts to find him.

Survival experts say he's had help, he's blending in, or he's dead.

Laundrie's parents said he disappeared at a nature reserve not far from their home in Florida. But the 23-year-old, who is a person of interest in the death of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, likely couldn't survive such tough conditions for so long, the experts said.

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Laundrie went missing in September, about two weeks after he returned to his parents' home in North Port without Petito. The couple had embarked on a cross-country road trip at the beginning of July. Petito's mother reported her missing in New York on September 11, and her disappearance garnered national attention. Her body was found in Wyoming about a week later. A Wyoming coroner on Tuesday said Petito's cause of death was strangulation.

Laundrie's parents, Chris and Roberta, first told the police they last saw their son on September 14, when he went to the Carlton Reserve, about 13 miles north of North Port, carrying only a backpack. They later said their son went missing on September 13.

The North Port Police Department did not return Insider's request for comment on Monday. In an interview with NewsNation Now last week, Josh Taylor, a spokesperson for the department, said it was difficult to know what had happened because the Laundries hadn't always been forthcoming with investigators.

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"I don't necessarily know what to believe anymore," Taylor told the outlet. "I think it's certainly possible that they're expressing what they know, but we'll see. I mean, this is an ongoing investigation that will continue to evolve."

Brian Laundrie has been missing for 29 days. Survival experts say he's had help, he's blending in, or he's dead.
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito. North Port Police Department

Before he vanished, Laundrie refused to cooperate with authorities searching for Petito.

Survival experts told Insider it's unlikely Laundrie would be alive if he'd been hiding in the Carlton Reserve for the past 29 days

Most people who find themselves stranded in the wilderness "break down within five or six days," Jason Marsteiner, the founder and lead instructor of Colorado Mountain Man Survival, told Insider.

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"Especially if they don't have food; you're not eating what your body needs," he added. "You're either going to get angry or you are going to have some sort of emotional distress that makes you make poor decisions. Plus, he's got this stress of the situation - why he's being pursued to begin with."

Robert Urban, the founder and chief instructor of the Urban Survival Academy in Florida, said a large part of surviving in the wilderness involved a person's mental strength rooted in the hope they'll eventually be found.

"Survival is based on the hope that I'm going to get rescued," Urban, a former US Marine, said. "When I do, my life's going to be better, and I'll be back with my friends and family and get back to normal. So there's a big positive mental attitude, even for experienced guys like myself.

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"And the only way that you really have that mental fortitude is if there's that hope of it. So in this specific scenario of if this guy gets rescued - 'rescued' - his life is not going to be better than it was in the past," he added, alluding to the legal hurdles Laundrie could face if he's found.

Brian Laundrie has been missing for 29 days. Survival experts say he's had help, he's blending in, or he's dead.
Police are still searching the Carlton Reserve for Brian Laundrie. North Port Police Department

Both Urban and Marsteiner said they doubted that Laundrie had the skills to survive in a place like the Carlton Reserve for nearly a month. In a recent interview with ABC News, his sister called him a "mediocre survivalist."

Marsteiner said one of his introductory survival classes lasts 50 days and culminates in a weeklong exercise where trainees forgo their gear and have to use the skills they learned in class to survive off the land.

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"They struggle - even with all the training that they've received - to survive for seven days," Marsteiner said.

"For somebody to go out in the woods, or wherever it is they are - for them to survive for 29 days now, for Laundrie, with a minimal amount of gear, it's going to be quite difficult. Surviving is not something that you're going to pick up quickly."

Experts said Laundrie would have faced numerous dangers, from bears to contaminated water

In the Florida reserve, Laundrie would have had to endure hot temperatures; insects such as mosquitoes; animals like bears, wild hogs, snakes, coyotes, and alligators; poisonous or otherwise inedible food; and dangerous bacteria or other contaminants in the water he could try to drink.

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Marsteiner said Laundrie would likely need to get food and water from other people near him, though the reserve has been closed to visitors since September 21 during the search for Laundrie.

Even if he had access to a water-filtration device, it could still be difficult to find drinkable water, Urban said, especially if Laundrie were looking for a source far from other people.

Marsteiner said that while there were ways to start fires that go relatively undetected, it was unlikely that someone without training would be able to do so. The police in North Port have said they've found no evidence of any campsite in the park.

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Marsteiner speculated that Laundrie could be on the Appalachian Trail, a 2,193-mile hiking path that stretches from Georgia to Maine.

Brian Laundrie has been missing for 29 days. Survival experts say he's had help, he's blending in, or he's dead.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officers ride up a private road near the entrance of the Carlton Reserve during a search for Brian Laundrie on Sept. 21, 2021, in Venice, Fla. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

"To most people, that sounds like he will get caught, but people live in their own little world, their own little bubble," Marsteiner said. "They don't pay attention to the environment around them usually. He could very well be scavenging off of the people on the trail or at the places where people go to resupply for their food."

Marsteiner said that if Laundrie died in the reserve, police search dogs would most likely be able to pick up the scent of his body. But Urban said it wouldn't be impossible for Laundrie's death in the park to go undetected.

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"You have so many animals that are hungry," Urban said. "You can be in a snake stomach, you can be in a gator stomach, or you can be eviscerated by a bear.

"An animal is not going to eat out in public. It's going to take back to where it feels safe and sheltered," he said, adding that a "pack of hungry animals" or "even buzzards" could destroy a body and leave behind little evidence.

"Some of these animals can destroy you in this Florida heat," he said, adding that any scent would likely dissipate in 12 to 24 hours, making it difficult for even search dogs to detect a body.

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Urban said he believed there were three scenarios. The most likely, he said, is that Laundrie is not in the reserve.

"The second one is that if he is cached somewhere, someone's helping him - someone's giving him supply or food. But everyone in his tight circle would be watched intently.

"Third, he's dead."

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