Brian Laundrie is very much alive — and the FBI will find him sooner or later, one of the nation’s top federal marshals told The Post.
Lenny DePaul, a former 30-year veteran of the US Marshal Service and onetime commander of the New York/New Jersey Fugitive Task Force, said the 23-year-old fugitive is “sleeping with one eye open” and will eventually trip up.
“I personally think he could be anywhere,” DePaul said Thursday. “It doesn’t matter. Mexico. He can be on a boat sitting off the coast of Cuba. It doesn’t matter. He’s gonna mess up. He’s going to make the mistake.
“I would run as fast and as far as I could, too, if I were him,” he added. “Any way you look at it, it’s not good for him.”
Laundrie is sought for questioning in the death of his girlfriend Gabby Petito, who disappeared during the couple’s cross-country trip.
He has been on the run since his parents said he left home for a hike on Sept. 14 and is now the subject of a massive FBI-led manhunt.
“Right now they’re chasing a ghost,” DePaul said. “But he’s sleeping with one eye open.
“The bigger question is what’s his mindset once that noose gets tightened up and they get ready to make an arrest,” he said. “Is it suicide by cop, is he gonna shoot it out, is he armed?
DePaul is not involved in the search for Laundrie but is considered one of the service’s most legendary figures, with thousands of manhunts on his resume.
He also starred in A&E’s 2008 reality TV series “Manhunt: Fugitive Task Force.”
Laundrie has not been charged in connection with Petito’s death but is the sole person of interest in the case. Last week the FBI obtained a federal fraud warrant for him in Wyoming for allegedly using someone else’s bank card on Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.
The FBI has not said if it was Petito’s card.
DePaul said the warrant is “a home run for law enforcement for a couple of reasons.”
“One, you now have an arrest warrant. If they do find him, if he’s held up in a house, in a dwelling, they can make entry legal now, forced entry,” he said.
“Also, they can use that as leverage going into a conversation with any one of his friends, his family members,” he said. “You get hit with aiding and abetting or harboring a fugitive, a federal charge, that’s a five-year mandatory minimum sentence in a federal penitentiary. So you’re not going to play around with that stuff.”
He said Laundrie’s parents are key to the search.
“You gotta tear his world upside down,” he said. “If I was sitting down with his mother and father at the kitchen table the first question I would ask them, ‘If you knew where your son was would you tell me?’”
“And nine times out of 10 they’re going to tell you, ‘No I would not,’” he said. “Now that tells me two things. Number one they know where he is. And number two I’m going to take a hard look at mom and dad.”
He said investigators are likely grilling close friends as well.
“He’s gotta reach out. Provisions are gonna run out,” Depaul said “Money. Our technical operations groups, our electronic surveillance units, our financial surveillance units, these guys are all over this thing like a cheap suit.
“They’re leaving no stones unturned,” he said.