Brian Laundrie 'probably' killed himself, sheriff says

Brian Laundrie ‘probably’ killed himself, sheriff says as police chief defends cops who mistook his mother for him

  • Sarasota County Kurt Hoffman recently revealed that Brian Laundrie likely killed himself as cops throughout the country searched for his missing fiancee
  • Laundrie’s remains were found on October 20 after an extensive search of the Carlton Preserve, but an autopsy was inconclusive
  • Hoffman revealed on Friday, though, that ‘by all accounts’ Laundrie ‘probably committed suicide’
  • Laundrie, 23, had been reported missing on September 17
  • His parents said he went for a walk at the Carlton Preserve and never came back
  • But just one day before, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison had announced that he knew Laundrie’s whereabouts
  • Police revealed last week that they had mistook Laundrie for his mother, Roberta, when he made the announcement
  • Garrison, though, stood by the work of his officers at a community meeting 

Brian Laundrie likely killed himself as cops searched relentlessly for his missing fiancee, Gabby Petito, a Florida sheriff has revealed.

Laundrie, 23, had been the main suspect in Petito’s disappearance and murder after he arrived back home, alone, in North Port, Florida on September 1 from a cross-country road trip he embarked on with Gabby in her white 2012 Ford Transit van.

As cops searched for the missing 22-year-old – who was eventually found dead at the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming – Laundrie’s parents reported him missing on September 17. 

They said he had gone to take a walk at a local nature preserve, where his remains were found on October 20 after an extensive search of the Carlton Preserve.

An autopsy was inconclusive, but according to the Herald Tribune, Sarasota County Kurt Hoffman has revealed that Laundrie went out to the preserve ‘and by all accounts probably committed suicide.’

Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman (pictured) announced at a community meeting that Brian Laundrie likely committed suicide

Laundrie, 23, pictured, had been the main suspect in the disappearance and murder of his fiancee, Gabby Petito, after he returned to his North Port, Florida home from their cross-country trek alone

The admission came at a community meeting in which North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison also defended his officers, who mistook Laundrie’s mother for the suspect before he was reported missing, saying it was ‘human error.’

Officers said last week Roberta Laundrie, Brian’s mother, had been wearing a baseball cap when cops mistook her for her son on September 15, two days before Brian was reported missing but two days after he actually disappeared from his parents’ home.

They noted that Roberta and her son were ‘kind of built similarly’, and said both issues were to blame for the mix-up.

At the meeting on Friday, Garrison said that once he learned that his surveillance team made a mistake, it was important for the agency to admit it.

‘As a leader what do I do?’ Garrison asked the members of the South County Tiger Bay, rhetorically. ‘Do I not tell the public what’s going on, do we conceal it, cover it up?’

‘No, people want transparency and honesty from their law enforcement officials,’ he said, according to the Herald Tribune. ‘Yes, we made a mistake. It was human error, but I still stand behind my team.’

Garrison reportedly also noted at the meeting that during the first three and a half days of the investigation, the North Port Police Department only played a supporting role, as cops throughout the country searched for Petito.

It wasn’t until that Wednesday, September 15, he said, that North Port became the lead agency in the investigation – which at the time was still considered a missing persons case.

‘Now we know that by the time we became the lead agency, Brian had already left the house and presumably had already been deceased out in the Carlton Reserve,’ Garrison said.

At a community meeting on Friday, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison (pictured) defended his officers who mistook Laundrie’s mother for him 

He had announced at a news conference with Gabby Petito’s father, Joe Petito, on September 16 that he was aware of Brian’s whereabouts even though he had gone missing two days before

North Port police have now admitted they mistook Roberta Laundrie for her son, saying Roberta was wearing a baseball cap when the mistake happened and noting that she and her son were ‘kind of built similarly’

But, he said, ‘the surveillance team told me “Chief, Brian was seen going inside the house.'”

So when he spoke to the media the next day, he claimed he was aware of Brian’s whereabouts.

‘All I’m going to say is I know where Brian’s at,’ Garrison told reporters at the time. 

‘It was 100 percent in my belief that what the team told me was accurate and Brian was inside the house,’ he said at the community meeting on Friday.

‘Later on, we found out that Brian had left the house and now the parents on Friday wanted to report him missing.

‘There was nobody more surprised about that than me,’ he said. ‘In fact, when my officers went out to the house to do the report with the FBI, I sat with the deputy chief in my office hoping that they would find Brian hiding in a back bedroom.

‘I was hoping maybe it was a ploy,’ Garrison explained. ‘It wasn’t.’

Still, he stood by the efforts of the team.

‘As a 30-year [law enforcement] veteran, doing surveillance, this is not uncommon and if any expert out there says it is, they’re lying to you,’ Garrison told the crowd, according to the Herald Tribune.

‘I can tell you one thing,’ he continued, ‘the amount of work that was done behind the scenes 24 hours a day, from our team and the FBI working on the second floor of the police department was phenomenal work. 

‘The work led the search teams to locate Gabby Petito deceased,’ he noted, adding: ‘I want to remind everyone: our primary focus the first couple of days was to find Gabby.’

He said that he was ‘confident’ Laundrie would be found if he went running during the course of the investigation, noting: ‘People are making judgments on things that were discovered or learned over the last five weeks.

‘We didn’t know a lot of this information over the first four days.’ 

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno and Garrison addressed the media after Laundrie’s remains were found in a swampy section of the Carlton Reserve

The remains were found north of the entrance to Myakkahatchee Creek, in the Big Slough Preserve, off an unpaved trail near a bridge where Brian’s parents said he liked to visit. It is four miles north of their home in North Port, Florida 

The extensive manhunt for Brian went on for almost five weeks, with a particular focus on the Carlton Reserve because his Ford Mustang had been parked there and it was an area he was known to go hiking.

But the search was incredibly difficult due to the swampy conditions, with the park full of alligators and snakes, and much of it underwater. 

Laundrie’s skeletal remains – said to include part of a skull – were eventually found on October 20 in an area of the swamp that, until recently, was under several feet of water.

His autopsy was inconclusive and cause of death remains unknown. A water-damaged notebook was found close to his body, whose contents investigators say may be salvageable, and which they hope could offer clues to Gabby’s killing.  

Experts say it had been expected that pinpointing his cause of death would be complicated because his body had reportedly lain in the water for some time. 

‘Forensic anthropologists are called upon when the environment has ravaged or removed the soft tissue,’ said Dr Heather Walsh-Haney, speaking to WPBF News. 

The medical examiner’s office in Sarasota had been called in after his remains were found

His autopsy, though, was inconclusive and experts warn it may be difficult to determine a cause of death given how long his body was exposed to the elements

Items belonging to Laundrie were also found in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, and investigators hope a journal will provide some insight into what had transpired between Laundrie and Petito

‘Soft tissue markers that the forensic pathologist would use.’  

A forensic anthropologist was also required to determine how Gabby died. Her body was found on September 19, and on October 12, a Teton County coroner announced she had died from strangulation.

Walsh-Haney said the longer Laundrie’s remains are left outside, the greater the chances that evidence is lost.

‘Four weeks is a long time for human remains to be out in the wilderness,’ Walsh-Haney said. 

Police recovered a notebook belonging to Brian, along with a backpack and a dry bag containing some of his personal items, from Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on October 20 in an area that had previously been underwater.

Officials claim the notebook ‘may be salvageable.’

‘It appears it may be salvageable. That really is a question for FBI though,’ Taylor told Fox News.

He did not specify if it contained any legible writing or information that could be useful in the investigation into Gabby’s homicide.  

The FBI told the news outlet they have ‘no new information’ to share ‘at this time,’ but the will continue to post updates to Twitter if and when they become available.     

Laundrie and Petito had embarked on a cross country trek over the summer

They posted photos of them at various places along their journey

But their lives weren’t as perfect as they seemed. They were pulled over by police in theri van on August 12 after cops received reports of a fight between the pair. Witnesses said they saw Laundrie hit Petito. She was however deemed to be the aggressor in the argument, and the pair were separated for the night 

Gabby and Brian embarked on a cross-country trip earlier this summer with a plan to document it all on film for their social media channels.

However, their loved-up Instagram persona was a far cry from the combative relationship that was playing out behind the scenes.

Just a few weeks before she vanished, police in Moab, Utah, were called to the pair’s van after fellow travelers saw Brian hit Gabby. 

They were separated for the night, and Gabby was deemed to be the aggressor. 

She had not been heard from since August 26.  

The Petito family retrieved her remains from a mortuary in Wyoming on October 18.

According to family lawyer, Steven Bertolino, the Laundries are ‘quietly grieving’ Brian’s death at their North Port home. 

They are not planning to hold a funeral for their son.

Brian’s remains will be cremated and given to his parents ‘when the time comes,’ he said.

Timeline of missing Gabby Petito’s case

July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip

August 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple

Aug. 17: Laundrie allegedly flies back to Florida to ‘clear out a storage unit’   

Aug. 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah 

Aug. 23: Laundrie flies back to Utah to ‘rejoin Gabby’ on their trip 

Aug. 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie

Aug. 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nichole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park

Aug. 25 or 26: The couple chats with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes 

Aug. 27: Video of Petito’s van was taken by blogger Jenn Bethune around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground; Witnesses say they saw a ‘commotion’ with the couple at Merry Piglets Tex-mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming 

Aug. 29: The day that Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker claimed that she and her boyfriend were approached by Laundrie at Grand Teton National Park and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm

Aug. 30: Schmidt receives the last text from Petito’s phone: ‘No service in Yosemite’

Sept. 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito

Sept. 6-7: Laundrie and his parents visit Fort De Soto campsite in Florida

Sept. 11: Schmidt reports Petito missing to authorities in New York; Petito and Laundrie’s van was impounded by police in Florida that same day

Sept. 12: Grand Teton National Park rangers search for Petito

Sept. 13: Laundrie’s lawyer says on October 5 that his parents now ‘believe’ this was the day they last saw him heading for a hike

Sept. 14: Laundrie issues a statement about Petito’s disappearance through his lawyer; Laundrie’s parents claim on September 17 that Laundrie left his parents’ home for a hike this day and they hadn’t seen from him since 

Sept. 15: Laundrie is officially named a person of interest in Petito’s case

Sept. 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown

Sept. 18: North Port police and the FBI start searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County for missing Brian Laundrie

Sept. 19: Bethune realizes she has video of Petito’s van around 12am and submits the FBI with the footage 10 minutes later; Officials announce a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Petito’s description in the afternoon

Sept. 21: Coroner confirms remains found in Grand Tetons belong to Petito. Her death is ruled a homicide but her cause of death is still under invesetigation

Sept. 20 – 22: FBI and North Port police continue search for Laundrie in Carton Reserve 

Sept. 22: Neighbors say they saw the Laudrie family pack up their detached camper on the day Gabby was reported missing. photos show the camper was back in the driveway two days later, on September 13 

Sept. 23: FBI issues an arrest warrant for Laundrie for ‘use of unauthorized access device’ for fraudulently using a Capitol One Bank debit card that was not his between August 30 and September 1 to spend $1,000; A probe is launched into the police handling of the Utah police incident on Aug. 12; Laundrie’s parents visit their attorney in Orlando 

Sept. 25: Dog the Bounty Hunter joins the search for Laundrie 

Sept. 26: A funeral is held for Petito in Holbrook, New York, and her family launch a charity to help parents find missing children 

Sept. 27: Manhunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve is scaled back after 10 day search doesn’t find him. Dog the Bounty Hunter says Laundrie and his parents stayed at Fort De Soto Park from September 1-3 and September 6-8 – and that on the latter visit only the parents left 

Sept. 28: Laundrie’s mom is accused of using a burner phone to contact her son Sept. 29: Documents reveal Laundrie’s mom canceled a reservation for the Fort De Soto Park campsite for two from September 1 to 3 and booked for three from September 6 to 8; FBI seizes surveillance footage from site; FBI investigates lead Laundrie bought a burner phone on September 14;  

Sept. 30: Bodycam footage from a second officer at the August 12 incident is released showing a distressed Petito admitting Laundrie hit her; FBI agents collect more evidence from the Laundrie home 

Oct. 1: It emerges Laundrie’s sister had contact with him after she said she did 

Oct. 2: A hiker along the Appalachian Trail claims to have seen Laundrie near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina 

Oct. 3: Investigators searched the area on the Appalachian trail for any signs that Laundrie had been there  

Oct. 4: Laundrie’s sister told protestors outside her home that her family has been ignoring her after they rebuked her story and that she does not know where her brother is

Oct 5: Laundrie’s sister appeared on Good Morning America to say she would turn her brother in if she knew where he is;  

Oct. 7: Laundrie’s father Christopher joins FBI agents on the search for his son at the Carlton Reserve but the search brings up no clues 

Oct. 12: Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announces autopsy findings which show Petito died by strangulation; No specific date of death was given – only that she was dead 3-4 weeks before her body was found 

Oct. 16: Petito’s parents are seen collecting her ashes from the Valley Mortuary in Jackson, Wyoming

October 20: Human remains found in Carlton Reserve 

October 21: FBI confirm the body found belongs to Brian Laundrie. A notebook, backpack and dry bag are also found near the body

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