TAMPA, Fla. — A former FBI profiler in Tampa says the social media trail of clues in the disappearance of Gabby Petito can only take investigators so far, they need her fiancé Brian Laundrie's cooperation.
Of course, now law enforcement has to find where Laundrie is since he was reported missing Friday night.
Fox said a polygraph test could be one way for law enforcement to try and convince Laundrie to talk and potentially clear his name.
"If I were a police officer, in that case, I'd probably be trying to get him to take polygraph," Fox said. "The way they ask questions and the way they asked it so many times, it's really difficult to not give away even some information that could be potentially incriminating, if there is information that's incriminating available.
Laundrie's attorney said he advised his client not to talk, stating "In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this... regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito's disappearance."
Fox said the longer Laundrie waits to help with the investigation the direr the situation and search for Petito becomes.
"There's just so much that doesn't add up? And if you put yourself in your shoes and those shoes and think what would I have done? It's just such a far departure from the fact pattern that we see playing out," Fox said. "In this case, it seems like an extreme amount of information is being lost since Brian Laundrie is not cooperating. For one, he was the last person to see her alive for two. He drove the van back to Florida without her being with him."
So there are so many questions that need to be answered and I'm sure that's exactly what police are looking at."
The FBI is assisting in the case and there are thousands of comments from people searching through all of the Instagram posts and YouTube videos searching for any clue as to what happened to Petito. Fox said citizen "detectives" can help or hurt a case.
"Incredibly important is the role of social media and missing person investigations. Now, myself and some colleagues at USF have done some research on missing persons and media, particularly social media as well," Fox said. "And, we found that not only does social media help to find people safer, sooner. The downside is that sometimes with both media and social media coverage, police can become overwhelmed with all of the facts that are coming into them. Sifting through what's relevant, what's not, what's that needle in haystack. And, in some cases, they may actually lose time or grounds when it's so important, particularly in missing persons cases."