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US Public attention turns to Brian Laundrie's parents after his remains found in nature reserve

09:00  22 october  2021
09:00  22 october  2021 Source:   nbcnews.com

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Now that human remains have been found alongside Brian Laundrie ' s backpack and notebook in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, attention is shifting to his parents ' actions following Gabby Petito's homicide and their son's subsequent disappearance. Chris and Roberta Laundrie left their While they were there, "some articles belonging to Brian were found ," according to the family's attorney, Steven Bertolino. Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Tampa division, later confirmed that human remains were found in an area that had been underwater until recently.

A backpack and notebook belonging to Laundrie were found by police near human remains at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, near the Calton Reserve , yesterday during a brief search with the missing 23-year-old' s parents . Brian ' s dad, Chris Laundrie , found a white plastic bag containing some of his son' s items in a patch of bushes next to a trail before police later But the discovery only led to more public suspicion about the Laundries due to the bags being discovered less than 90 minutes into the search- despite police having searched the park for weeks without success.

After searching for more than a month, authorities found the skeletal remains of Brian Laundrie — who was a person of interest in the disappearance of his fiancée, Gabby Petito — and the break in the case came from his parents.

Investigators located partial human remains Wednesday at the Carlton Reserve, a sprawling Florida wildlife refuge that was Laundrie's last known location. The remains were identified as the 23-year-old man through dental records, the FBI field office in Denver announced Thursday.

This came after Laundrie's parents directed FBI agents and North Port police to an area where "some articles belonging to Brian were found," according to a statement Wednesday by Laundrie’s family’s attorney Steven Bertolino. He said the Laundries found the items "in an area where they had initially advised law enforcement that Brian may be."

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  What happens if Brian Laundrie isn't found in the coming weeks Local and federal investigators have been searching for Brian Laundrie -- the fiancé of 22-year-old Gabby Petito -- for about a month in a Florida nature reserve that spans nearly 25,000 acres. © Octavio Jones/Getty Images The Sarasota County Sheriffs Office and other surrounding law enforcement agencies continue their search in the Carlton Reserve. Petito's parents reported her missing last month following a cross-country road trip the couple began over the summer.

The parents of both Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito were tight-lipped Thursday after the FBI confirmed that the remains found in a Florida wilderness park belonged to the 23-year-old wanted missing man. Others, including Dog the Bounty Hunter, said Laundrie ’ s parents were partially to blame for the outcome. The North Port couple accompanied officials on a search of Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park that turned up his remains Wednesday, along with his backpack and notebook.

But Chris and Roberta Laundrie believe there's a "strong" chance the remains found in a Florida park are their missing son's, the family lawyer said. "Chris and Roberta Laundrie were at the reserve earlier today when human remains and some of Brian 's possessions were located in an area where they had initially advised law enforcement that Brian may be," Bertolino said. He explained that Brian Laundrie ' s father found a "dry bag" in the woods alongside a trail containing some of his son's belongings.

A senior law enforcement source told NBC News that the remains were found near a backpack that may have belonged to Laundrie. Other items thought to have belonged to Laundrie, including a notebook, "were found in an area that up until recently had been under water," Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Tampa office, said.

David Thomas, who worked for 20 years as a police officer in Michigan and Florida, said it’s likely that Laundrie’s parents made the decision to involve themselves publicly in the search with the direction of their attorney.

“If you’re smart, you let your attorney do the talking. You don’t do it. And they lawyered up right away,” Thomas, a professor of forensic studies at Florida Gulf Coast University, said. “I would suspect that any move that they made, like when the dad went out and helped them with the search … anything you see them do, I don’t think they would do that without the advice of their attorney.”

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Human remains , a backpack and a notebook were discovered in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, four miles north of Brian Laundrie ' s home on Wednesday. The remains have not yet been formally identified but the Laundrie family lawyer says it's highly likely it is Brian . The couple has been criticized for their silence throughout the months-long ordeal involving their son. Laundrie went on the run after the body of his fiancee, Gabby Petito, was found in Wyoming. The search of the reserve continued on Thursday with cadaver dogs, drones, police cars and divers.

Skeletal human remains found in Florida swamp DO belong to Brian Laundrie : Police visit parents at their home moments before FBI reveals dental records have confirmed body belongs to Gabby Petito' s fiancé. Laundrie went on a camping trip with his mother and father in Florida before running away himself. They were present on Wednesday when the remains and backpack were found in the park. They have been slammed for not speaking to the police, the media or to Petito' s family since the saga began.

Laundrie's parents have said that speculation they helped their son escape is "just wrong," according to a late September statement from Bertolino.

Bertolino rejected questions about the timing of both parents' involvement in the search during an interview with NBC News Now’s “Top Story With Tom Llamas” following the identification of Laundrie's remains.

"There was no deal," Bertolino said. "There were certainly conversations, as one would expect happens in every criminal case. You always have conversations with the prosecutors ... but no deal was cut. The Laundries have been cooperating with law enforcement, both locally and federally, since day one with respect to Brian."

The attorney dismissed speculation on why it took so long to find the remains and belongings, insisting that the area where the evidence was found Wednesday was previously submerged and inaccessible.

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Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino made the shocking statement in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, but added that “we are going to wait for the forensic results to come in to verify that.” A backpack and a notebook belonging to Laundrie were also discovered in the park Wednesday on the same day Laundrie ’ s parents , Chris and Roberta, showed up to help search for their fugitive son. Bertolino told Cuomo that the findings were made near a bridge that connects the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park and adjoining Carlton Reserve .

The assistance Brian Laundrie ’ s parents gave to investigators searching for their son “undercuts” speculation that they may have helped him evade authorities, a former federal prosecutor said in a new report. Chris and Roberta Laundrie , who remained largely holed up in their North Port home in Rahmani said he believes the remains found near a bridge that connects the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park and adjoining Carlton Reserve likely belong to Laundrie — “unless he was trying to plant evidence next to someone else’s remains to throw law enforcement off his tracks.”

"When does it stop ... these conjectures, these theories, people who have no firsthand knowledge, and specifically with yesterday's events," Bertolino said. "You have people with firsthand knowledge telling you how this played out. And yet people still don't believe it."

Former FBI agent Bryanna Fox, an associate professor of criminology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, said Wednesday that prosecuting a charge of aiding and abetting or obstruction of justice is a high bar requiring proof of an “awareness of the illegal act and intent to assist.”

Law enforcement officials have not accused the Laundries of wrongdoing.


Video: Human remains and Brian Laundrie's personal belongings found in nature preserve (CNBC)

Retired Lt. Thomas Nolan, a 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department, said it's "certainly fair to question as to what may have transpired between law enforcement, prosecutors and the parents."

"Authorities do walk a fine line in terms of alienating the parents and receiving no information or cooperation from them whatsoever; it’s a delicate balance," he said.

Brian Laundrie search: No discrepancy between FBI and parents on missing timeline, says family lawyer

  Brian Laundrie search: No discrepancy between FBI and parents on missing timeline, says family lawyer The attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie has chalked up differences in the timeline of when the Florida fugitive was reported missing to a lack of communication between law enforcement agencies and tells Fox News Digital there is "no discrepancy between the FBI and the Laundries."Steven Bertolino represents Chris and Roberta Laundrie and their son, Brian, who is a person of interest in the murder of his fiancée, Gabby Petito. Brian is also wanted on separate charges of unauthorized use of her bank card.

Brian Laundrie. (@gabspetito / via Instagram) © Provided by NBC News Brian Laundrie. (@gabspetito / via Instagram)

Laundrie, of North Port, Florida, was a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Petito, who was found dead in Wyoming last month.

Petito's body was discovered Sept. 19, at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Bridger-Teton National Forest, and a coroner ruled the 22-year-old woman's death a homicide by “manual strangulation.”

Petito and Laundrie were on a cross-country road trip, chronicling their travels on social media, before he returned to his parents' home in North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1 without his fiancée, police said.

Laundrie’s parents have kept a low profile ever since, telling investigators their son went hiking two weeks later and never returned, sparking a national manhunt.

Last weekend, Petito’s parents accused the Laundries of withholding crucial information about her death and his mysterious disappearance.

In an interview with "60 Minutes Australia," Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, called out the Florida couple who were set to become her daughter's in-laws.

"I think silence speaks volumes. I believe they know probably, if not everything, they know most of the information," Schmidt said. "I would love to just, face to face, ask, 'Why are you doing this? Just tell me the truth.'"

Brian Laundrie: Timeline of his disappearance still doesn't jibe among authorities and his family's lawyer

  Brian Laundrie: Timeline of his disappearance still doesn't jibe among authorities and his family's lawyer Now that the remains of Brian Laundrie have been positively identified by authorities, there are still lingering questions as to why, how and even when he disappeared in the days after his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was reported missing. © MOAB POLICE DEPARTMENT His parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, may be vital to unraveling the mysteries. But their recollections of key moments during these critical days -- according to their family attorney -- have been inconsistent or conflicted with law enforcement authorities' version of events.

Laundrie's family said he went hiking mid-September in the Carlton Reserve, the 25,000-acre reserve that had been searched multiple times prior to Wednesday’s discovery.

Petito’s parents have accused the Laundries of not being cooperative when they were searching for their daughter and of withholding information from them after Laundrie returned home without her.

Joseph L. Giacalone, a retired sergeant with the New York Police Department who supervised a cold case unit in the Bronx, said, "Most parents would do exactly what they had to do."

"It may be morally and ethically wrong, but we understand what mothers will do, what fathers will do. I’m sure they expected something strange, when he comes home with the car and she’s not around,” he said, referencing Laundrie's return without Petito after the road trip.

But because the remains were positively identified as Laundrie, that could complicate the investigation into Petito's death.

Now that authorities identified the remains as Laundrie, Giacalone said he expects the case to end as an "exceptional clearance," meaning that even if police suspect Laundrie killed Petito, the investigation would end.

"Because he's dead, they can't do anything about it," he said, adding that the case could end with an "unfulfilled expectation," especially for Petito's parents, who may never learn exactly what occurred before and after their daughter's death.

Brian Laundrie Was Likely Dead When Cops Confused His Mother for Him During Surveillance: Police .
North Port Police spokesman Joshua Taylor tells PEOPLE "this misidentification did not have a big impact on costs and the investigation"Joshua Taylor, public information officer for the North Port Police, tells PEOPLE "there is a very good possibility" that the 23-year-old fugitive was deceased two days after his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was reported missing.

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