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FBI now leading search; Brian Laundrie is still nowhere to be found

Law expert says someone close to the 23-year-old knows where he is and what happened to Gabby Petito.

TAMPA, Fla. — Agents have searched everywhere for Brian Laundrie, from campgrounds in Wyoming to swamps in Florida.

It's been 12 days since Laundrie's family says they've seen him and nine since North Port Police started searching at Carlton Reserve. Still, the question remains, where is Brian Laundrie?

"It kind of indicates that he's trying to get lost in the crowd," Former prosecutor and attorney Jeffrey Swartz said. 

The Cooley Law School professor is following every detail of the case and says evidence shows Brian could still be alive.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie's lawyer says he disappeared without phone, wallet

"The reason why I say that is that most people who want to commit suicide want to be found. To be found, his phone would be a very important clue to finding him. Initially, when they were looking for him, he left his phone at home. He left his wallet at home. He left his credit cards, his money and his identification at home," Swartz said.

Laundrie is the FBI's only "person of interest" in the death of his fiancé, 22-year-old Gabby Petito. The agency now leads the search for the missing man.

"They're calling him a person of interest, but he is a suspect. He is the person that they want to sit down and have a conversation with, and hopefully get a statement from him about what occurred," Swartz said.

But the law expert also says someone close to the 23-year-old knows where he is and what happened.

"I think there's reasons to have further conversations with his parents," Swartz said.

Despite their son's sudden disappearance, the Laundrie's are staying silent. The one thing officials are trying to avoid is Gabby's story turning into a cold case.

Steven Bertonlino, the Laundrie family attorney, told 10 Tampa Bay Sunday that the FBI requested some personal items belonging to Brian to assist them with DNA matching, which was deemed "routine." 

He says "Brian's parents provided the FBI with what they could."

"It could end up that way if he got all new identification, and he used that to leave the country and go someplace under an assumed name, assuming he won't be found. It becomes a cold case in the context that if in fact they think he did it, and he is the only suspect, then it's not a cold case as in they haven't solved it, it's a cold case because they can't find him," Swartz said.

The Carlton Reserve is nearly 25,000 acres large. 16 different law enforcement agencies are helping in the search. With such a large area to cover, many following this case wonder if Laundrie is in the reserve at all. 

10 Tampa Bay spoke with Jesse Park, a former Hillsborough County detective. He said police wouldn't pour resources into a search they believe wouldn't amount to anything. 

"My impression, and the chief there has certainly said it, and he's been supported by all these assisting agencies that he has good reason to believe he's in that area, said Park. "Given the information he has, he would be remiss to not be searching."

While law enforcement continues the search for Brian at Carlton Reserve Swartz says the autopsy and final cause of death for Gabby Petito will answer many of the questions that still remain.

"All we can do is sit back and wait and find out what happened," Swartz said.