NORTH PORT, Fla. – Authorities are probing whether a cellphone photo taken Friday of a man cops say looks a “heck” of a lot like the boyfriend of missing Long Island woman Gabby Petito, is indeed Brian Laundrie, who disappeared this week after being named a person of interest in his girlfriend’s disappearance, The Post has learned.
The photo was snapped just before 5 p.m. Friday on Targee Ave in North Port — about two blocks from Laundrie’s parents’ home, metadata from the image reveals.
The image shows a bald and clean-shaven man with what officials suggest is a similar build to Laundrie casually walking in flip-flops and wearing headphones. The Post has not been able to identify the man in the photo.
The image, taken by passerby Zachary Randazzo, was snapped about an hour and a half before investigators from the North Port Police Department showed up at Laundrie’s parents’ home after their attorney called the FBI to report him missing, metadata from the image shows.
Cops are aware of the photo — and are investigating, said Josh Taylor, the spokesman for the North Port Police Department.
The man in the photo appears to have tattoos on his left arm, which Laundrie does not, noted Taylor.
“Not looking like him. Tattoo on left arm … but we are going to make sure,” he said.
Taylor added “Other than that, sure as heck looks like him.”
Randazzo, 18, of Tampa, said he did a double-take when he saw the man, who he claimed “looks just like [Laundrie’s] clone.”
“We’re not 100 percent sure, but it looks so close I don’t know how it couldn’t be him,” he added.
Police are now on a manhunt for Laundrie in T. Mabry Carlton Reserve, a nearby Sarasota County wildlife refuge.
Laundrie has been silent about Petito’s disappearance since returning to their Florida home alone on Sept. 1 after the two went on a summertime road trip across the country.
His family told police they haven’t seen him since Tuesday, when he told them he was headed to the nature reserve.
Petito’s family last heard from the 22-year-old woman via text message on Aug. 30, but her mother previously said she doesn’t believe she was the one who sent the message.