$30,000 in rewards are available for tips leading to Brian Laundrie’s arrest


By Melissa Alonso, Dakin Andone and Travis Caldwell, CNN

Efforts to locate Brian Laundrie, who faces a federal warrant for arrest, continue over the weekend in the wilderness of Florida’s Carlton Reserve.

Laundrie’s parents told authorities on September 17 that the 23-year-old left their home days earlier with his backpack and said he was headed to the reserve, which has since been the focus of an extensive search by local and federal officers.

Now, two separate rewards totaling $30,000 have been offered to anyone who provides law enforcement officials with Laundrie’s whereabouts.

Boohoff Law, a personal injury law firm, said in a release on its website it is offering a $20,000 reward to be “paid once the investigating law enforcement agency supplies” the firm with “written verification that a tip helped lead to locating” Laundrie.

The law firm, which has multiple offices across Florida, including North Port, said its reward “will remain open for two months starting from the receipt of the tip” by law enforcement.

Meanwhile, a second reward has been offered by Jerry Torres, who said in a tweet Wednesday he was a neighbor of the family of Laundrie’s 22-year-old fiancée Gabby Petito, whose remains were found last Sunday in Wyoming.

Torres wrote that he and his daughter “offer our deepest condolences to the family of Gabby Petito,” adding, “We are offering a reward of $5,000 for tips leading to an arrest.”

Torres said Friday the reward he’s offering had been raised to $10,000, thanks in part to help from people like Steve Moyer, the former deputy chief of police for Sarasota, Florida.

“Money gets people to talk,” Moyer told CNN affiliate WZVN Friday.

On Wednesday, an arrest warrant for Laundrie was issued by the US District Court of Wyoming for the “use of unauthorized devices” related to his activities following the death of Petito.

Laundrie is accused of using a debit card and PIN number for accounts that did not belong to him for charges over $1,000 between the dates of August 30 and September 1, according to the indictment.

An attorney for Laundrie’s family emphasized in a statement that the warrant was not for Petito’s death but related to activities that allegedly took place afterward.

“It is my understanding that the arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie is related to activities occurring after the death of Gabby Petito and not related to her actual demise,” Steve Bertolino said. “The FBI is focusing on locating Brian and when that occurs the specifics of the charges covered under the indictment will be addressed in the proper forum.”

Swampy wilderness remains focus of search

The Carlton Reserve, located in Sarasota County not far from Laundrie’s parents’ home in North Port, is an inhospitable environment spanning nearly 25,000 acres.

“Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. It is currently (waist) deep in water in many areas,” North Port police said in one of its updates last week. “This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.”

Dozens of law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies have combed the reserve for signs of Laundrie, using drones and bloodhounds as part of the search, North Port Police Department spokesperson Josh Taylor said.

An underwater dive team from the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office who are “called upon to search for evidence of crimes and victims of drowning, water accidents and foul play” was also brought in midweek, according to the sheriff’s office.

“We’re looking through wooded areas, we’re looking through bodies of water, we’re looking through swampy areas,” North Port Police Commander Joe Fussell said in a video shared online Friday. “And we’re deploying the resources to be able to do that. We have air units, we have drones, we have the swamp buggies, air boats, multiple law enforcement agencies, we have ATVs, we have UTVs and we have officers on foot as well.”

Petito memorial service to be held Sunday

Petito and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country trip in June and were visiting national parks. They posted online regularly about their travels with the hashtag #VanLife, but those posts abruptly stopped in late August.

Laundrie returned home with their van on September 1. Petito was reported missing September 11 after her family had not been able to get in touch with her. She was found dead eight days later near a campground in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest.

A memorial visitation for Petito is planned for Sunday afternoon in New York, according to Moloney’s Holbrook Funeral Home, and will be open to the public. Petito grew up on Long Island in the hamlet of Blue Point.

Richard Stafford, an attorney for Petito’s family, confirmed in a statement Friday her funeral would be held Sunday, adding that the family has asked for donations to be made to the future Gabby Petito Foundation in lieu of flowers.

On Saturday night, a butterfly release and candlelight vigil were held at North Port City Hall by residents mourning the loss of Petito.

“It was just not the answer we wanted. But at least she is home with her family and they get to have their closure and peace,” Lisa Correll, who organized the memorial, told CNN affiliate WFTS.

Members of the community are invited to pay tribute at a memorial located in front of City Hall and are free to add to the growing collection of signs, flowers and letters of remembrance, WFTS reported.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Leyla Santiago, Sara Weisfeldt, Christina Maxouris, Jenn Selva, Steve Forrest, Taylor Romine, Laura Ly, Amir Vera and Gregory Lemos contributed to this report.

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Czechs Send 30,000 Police, Soldiers to Enforce Travel Limits | Business News

By KAREL JANICEK, Associated Press

PRAGUE (AP) — Police and military forces in the Czech Republic set up 500 checkpoints across the country as one of the European Union’s hardest-hit nations marked the first anniversary of its coronavirus outbreak on Monday by significantly limiting free movement.

Some 30,000 officers were involved in an unprecedented operation to enforce a tight new restriction that bans people from traveling to other counties unless they go to work or have to take care of relatives.

It’s part of a series of measures that took effect Monday as the Central European nation seeks to slow down the spread of a highly contagious virus variant first found in Britain.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the measure’s goal was to prevent the country’s hospitals from collapsing under the stress of caring for COVID-19 patients.

Amid a surge of infections from the U.K. variant, of the 7,049 COVID-19 patients in Czech hospitals on Sunday, 1,507 needed intensive care. Both the numbers are close to the records set earlier last week.

Since the Czech Republic registered the first three people infected with coronavirus on March 1 last year, the nation of 10.7 million has see over 1.24 million confirmed cases with 20,469 deaths.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen from 70.75 new cases per 100,000 people on Feb. 14 to 109.82 per 100,000 people on Sunday, the worst per-capita rate in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As of Monday, people in the Czech Republic who go out for exercise should not leave their municipality. Nursery schools and schools for children with disabilities were also closed while only stores selling essential goods remain open.

Experts, however, say the measures don’t go far enough to stop the virus.

“I consider the most important measures those that haven’t been applied,” biochemist Jan Trnka told the Czech Public radio. “That is to limit contacts at work, especially in the industry.”

Only on Monday did the Czech government start to require mass testing of employees on a voluntary basis. That was expected to become mandatory Friday in companies with more than 250 workers.

Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlicek has rejected calls to close at least some plants and factories as “unrealistic.”

Meanwhile, the country is speeding up its vaccination program with general practitioners joining inoculation centers. Over 650,000 vaccine doses have been given out. Babis said 1 million vaccine shots were expected to arrive through an EU program in March and another 2.6 million in April.

In a sign of solidarity, three states in neighboring Germany have sent the Czech Republic 15,000 dozes of the AstraZeneca vaccine to try to control contagion at the border.

Babis and pro-Russian President Milos Zeman also said they would use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine even if it’s not approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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