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Florida Police Admit Mistakes In Brian Laundrie Case — And Say They Mistook His Mom For Him During Surveillance

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Local Florida police admitted Tuesday that they made a mistake and failed to keep track of Brian Laundrie’s whereabouts during the investigation into Gabby Petito’s disappearance, a mishap that sparked a massive month-long manhunt for Laundrie that ended last week when his remains were discovered, WINK News reported.

Key Facts

North Port Police had cameras set up outside the Laundrie home and watched Laundrie leave on September 13; they believed he returned two days later, though they later realized it was his mother Roberta wearing a baseball hat, a spokesperson told WINK News. 

The police department said it was “news to us” when Laundrie’s parents reported him missing on September 17, a day after North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison claimed “we know where Brian Laundrie is at,” the outlet reported. 

Laundrie’s disappearance sparked an extensive search for him that included local police, the FBI and even Dog the Bounty Hunter, and authorities dedicated hours of work and employed dogs, drones and boats while combing a local nature preserve to find him.

However, “this misidentification did not have a big impact on costs and the investigation,” North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor tells Forbes, and the “confusion” was a “direct result of a lack of cooperation from the family early on in this investigation.”

Taylor also tells Forbes that “there is a very good possibility that Brian was already deceased” when they learned he was missing. 

Crucial Quote

“We thought that we [had]

Key Background

Petito and Laundrie were traveling on a road trip out west together when Laundrie returned to Florida in early September without her. Her family reported her missing on September 11. After Petito’s body was discovered on September 19, her death was ruled a homicide and the coroner said she likely died from strangulation. Laundrie was the only person of interest named by authorities in her murder. Days after Laundrie disappeared, an arrest warrant was issued for him for allegedly using Petito’s debit card after she went missing. On October 20, human remains were discovered near items that belonged to Laundrie in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park near Sarasota. The next day, the FBI confirmed the remains were in fact Laundrie’s. A cause of death has not yet been determined, and his family sent the remains to a forensic anthropologist to try to determine one.

Further Reading

Brian Laundrie’s Remains Sent To Forensic Anthropologist, Family Lawyer Says (Forbes) 

Brian Laundrie’s Remains Found At Florida Nature Reserve, FBI Says (Forbes)