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Official: Brian Laundrie Parents’ Lack of Cooperation Led to Early Police Mistake



What to Know

  • A medical examiner wasn’t able to determine a cause or manner of death on Brian Laundrie’s remains, which were found by his parents and the FBI in the same Florida park he was last said to have visited
  • Laundrie’s parents found his belongings just one day after the environmental park at the center of the FBI search reopened to public
  • He was the FBI’s only person of interest in Gabby Petito’s death and disappearance; her case was ruled a homicide by manual strangulation. No other details on her autopsy have been provided

A police department spokesman in North Port, Florida, says officers mistaking Brian Laundrie’s mother for him in mid-September, leading them to falsely believe they knew his location when they didn’t know where he was, “was a direct result of a lack of cooperation from the family early on in this investigation.”

North Port police spokesman Josh Taylor said Thursday there’s a good chance Laundrie was already dead by that Sept. 15 day they thought they saw him driving home in the silver Mustang, so the error didn’t have a major impact on their probe or its related costs. Officers needed to find him anyway, Taylor said.

“Other than confusion, it likely changed nothing. We just wanted people to better understand why we thought we knew Brian was in his home,” Taylor said.

Laundrie’s parents, through their attorney Steven Bertolino, have said they’ve been fully cooperative with investigators from the beginning of the case. They haven’t recently specified which case, though, Gabby Petito’s or their son’s. They didn’t report their son missing until Sept. 17, two days after the incident Taylor described.

The officer didn’t elaborate on the family’s relationship with investigators after that point. The FBI hasn’t made any statements regarding the Laundrie parents either.

That silver Mustang was taken by FBI investigators for forensic analysis earlier in the investigation and returned. It’s still not clear if anything of relevance was found inside, one among such a litany of questions surrounding the case that have many wondering whether answers in Petito and Laundrie’s deaths will ever be known.


No cause or manner of death for Laundrie, whose partial remains, including part of a human skull, were found by his parents and FBI in Myakkahatachee Creek Environmental Park last week along with his backpack and a notebook, has been made. The remains had been submerged in water for a number of weeks.

Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino told News 4 the remains were sent to an anthropologist for further evaluation. He also said they opted to forgo a traditional funeral and will cremate Laundrie when his remains are returned to them.

It’s not clear when that might be.

The Petito family hasn’t spoken publicly since learning Laundrie died in the same area where he was last said to have gone five-plus weeks before he was found.

Brian Laundrie likely never left the Florida nature preserve where he was last seen – and with the discovery of his remains earlier this week, it brings to an end a mystery that has captivated the country.

But – even so, there are unanswered questions in the disappearance and death of Gabby Petito. This week, Pei-Sze Cheng revisits experts about the latest in the case and where they think we’re headed next.


Source: NBC New York

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