Dog the Bounty Hunter said he believes that Brian Laundrie is still alive somewhere in the wilderness since he’s a “survivalist” and showed no indication that he had plans to take his own life.
“I would assume, you know, he is alive. Not alive and doing well but he’s alive,” the reality TV star, whose real name is Duane Chapman, told TMZ on Monday.
Chapman, 68, said he has no reason to believe the 23-year-old fugitive — who is sought for questioning in Gabby Petito’s disappearance and death — was suicidal when he took off amid mounting attention to the case.
“There’s no evidence of him being suicidal like that anywhere. And you know he didn’t say that to anyone,” he said.
“If you go to his Instagram pages and look what kind of person he really is and the books that he reads, and especially a very favorite book, [those are] not books for suicidal people.”
Laundrie’s shared YouTube page with Petito featured a clip of him reading Jeff VanderMeer’s “Annihilation,” a novel about people exploring uncharted terrain who go missing.
Chapman said he believes that Laundrie might be hiding out in Fort de Soto Park in Pinellas County, where he camped out last month with his family.
“He goes fishing or camping … with his parents, while he’s down here in that camp area, the bomb drops,” Chapman said, referring to the news of Petito’s disappearance. “Brian Laundrie hits national news. They are watching that on television and they’re going, ‘Oh no.’”
“So right then, they had to make decisions and since he’s a survivalist — he’s been on the Appalachian Mountains for two months at a time by himself … That was the only thing to do,” he continued.
Chapman said he’s collected evidence that suggests Laundrie was still in the area a few days ago.
“Is he here a few days ago? Absolutely. But he could have got out during night? Then he’d have to have help from, I guess it might be close to a family member, and you know he’s taken off somewhere else,” he said.
Laundrie was on a cross-country trip with Petito when she vanished in late August.
The body of the 22-year-old Long Island native was found at a remote Wyoming campground on Sept. 19, nearly three weeks after Laundrie returned home to the couple’s Florida home without her.
Laundrie refused to cooperate with authorities and took off on Sept. 14, according to his parents, and has since been the subject of a massive manhunt.