A former co-worker of Brian Laundrie has said the missing 23-year-old is “well-versed” in surviving in the wild.
The revelation comes as Mr Laundrie, identified as a person of interest in the death of Gabby Petito, has been missing for more than a week.
Investigators have struggled to find any trace of him during six intensive days of searching in the 25,000-acre, swampy Florida reserve where it is believed to have gone. A team of divers joined police and FBI agents using boats and helicopters in the search for him on Thursday.
An unnamed source who used to work with Mr Laundrie told the New York Post that he had once boasted to colleagues he was able to survive on next-to-nothing for weeks on end when camping in the wild.
“In conversation about hiking … Brian talked about the longest time that he spent in the woods was 6 weeks and bragged about only having a large pack of either cheese or peanut butter crackers to sustain him for that time,” the source told the New York Post.
“He is well-versed in spending a long time in the woods and living off nearly nothing,” they said.
Mr Laundrie, who was engaged to Ms Petito, was on a cross-country road trip with his fiance. The couple had blogged about their travels in national parks and experiences living in a van on social media. Mr Laundrie returned to his family home in Florida on 1 September without Ms Petito. Her death has been ruled a homicide, though no cause of death has been released. Police have not outlined evidence of a crime.
A friend of Ms Petito’s also warned that Mr Laundrie had well-honed solo survival skills, in a separate Daily Mail report.
Rose Davis, a friend of Gabby Petito, told the news outlet that, as she remembered, Mr Laundrie had lived alone for months in the Appalachian Mountains, which span large portions of the US.
“I know he lived in the Appalachians for what I believe was three months, and he did it by himself, so I know he’s skilled at it,” she said.
“He and Gabby both told me stories about it,” Ms Davis added. “And you could see the enthusiasm in his voice when he would talk about his adventures by himself like that trip into the Appalachians.”