Police in Florida admitted Monday that investigators who believed they had surveillance on Brian Laundrie last month were actually trailing his mother, Roberta Laundrie.
The officers said Roberta was wearing a baseball cap when the mistake happened and noted that she and her son were ‘kind of built similarly’, and said both issues were to blame for the mix-up.
Police say the blunder happened on September 15, two days before Brian was reported missing but two days after he actually disappeared from his parents’ home.
On September 16, during a press conference with Gabby Petito’s father, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison 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.
Public Information Officer Josh Taylor admitted to WINK on Monday that the department’s mix-up was a ‘costly mistake’.
‘No case is perfect,’ he said.
Police in Florida admitted Monday that investigators who believed they had surveillance on then-wanted Brian Laundrie (right) last month were actually watching his mother, Roberta Laundrie (left)
The officers said Roberta was wearing a baseball cap when the mistake happened and noted that she and her son were ‘kind of built similarly’
A missing persons report was filed for Brian on Friday, September 17 after his parents, Christopher and Roberta, claimed he failed to return home from a hiking trip in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
The Laundries said they hadn’t seen their son since he left their home on September 14. They later said he actually left on September 13.
Brian’s parents went to the park on September 15 and reportedly drove their son’s Mustang home so ‘it wouldn’t get towed.’
‘When the family reported him [missing] on Friday. That was certainly news to us that they had not seen him,’ Taylor said.
‘We thought that we seen Brian initially come back into that home on that Wednesday. But we now know that that wasn’t true.’
Taylor believes officers, who believed they saw Brian exit his Mustang at the family’s home, actually mistook Roberta for her son.
‘I believe it was his mom who was wearing a baseball cap,’ Taylor said, as he sought to pin the blame on Laundrie’s parents for his team’s mistake.
‘They had returned from the park with that Mustang. So who does that? Right? Like, if you think your son’s missing since Tuesday, you’re going to bring his car back to the home.’
Police say the mix-up happened on September 15, two days before Brian was reported missing but several days after he actually disappeared
On September 16, during a press conference with Gabby Petito’s father (pictured at presser), North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison claimed he was aware of Brian’s whereabouts
‘All I’m going to say is I know where Brian’s at,’ Garrison (pictured) told reporters on Sept. 16
He continued: ‘So, it didn’t make sense that anyone would do that if he wasn’t there. So, the individual getting out with a baseball cap we thought was Brian.’
North Port police had been keeping tabs on Brian before his disappearance through surveillance cameras they had placed around the Laundrie family home. However, they missed him leaving for the Carlton Reserve on September 13, WFLA reported.
The lack of charges against Brian – as he was not named a person of interest in the disappearance and later homicide of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, until September 15 – prevented officers from taking more drastic measures.
Taylor claims the department is now looking into the mix-up and trying determine if or where any errors occurred.
‘What I’ll say is that we were the ones doing everything in our power to get answers on this. If mistakes were made, there’s human error involved in every investigation. It certainly wasn’t from a lack of taking it seriously or hustle or knowledge. Sometimes things happen.’
Public Information Officer Josh Taylor (pictured) admitted to on Monday that the department’s mix-up was a ‘costly mistake’
An extensive manhunt for Brian was staged 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 found on October 20 in an area of the swamp which until recently were 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.
‘Soft tissue markers that the forensic pathologist would use.’
Laundrie’s remains – said to include part of a skull – were found on October 20 in an area of the swamp which until recently were under several feet of water. His autopsy was inconclusive and cause of death remains unknown
A forensic anthropologist was also required to determine how Gabby died. Her body was found on September 19, and the autopsy results were announced on October 12.
She said the longer the 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/when they become available.
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.
Brian Laundrie, 23, was the sole suspect in the murder of his 22-year-old fiancee Gabby Petito. Her strangled body was found in September, weeks after she was last seen alive. The pair were on a cross-country camper van trip when she vanished and he went home in September
Petito and Laundrie had been traveling throughout the U.S. and documenting their trip
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito are shown on August 12 after being pulled over by police in their van. The cops had 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
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.
August 26 was the last time anyone saw or heard from Gabby.
Brian returned to his parents home on September 1.
At first, they told officers they last saw him on September 14.
They later said it was in fact September 13, when he told them he was going on a hike in the reserve and never returned.
The family lawyer, Steven Bertolino, told WFLA last week he notified the FBI of Brian’s disappearance the night he failed to return home.
He had been on the run ever since and his parents refused to speak publicly about the case or help Gabby’s parents.
The Petito family retrieved her remains from a mortuary in Wyoming on October 18.
According to Bertolino, the Chris and Roberta are ‘quietly grieving’ Brian’s death at their North Port home, alongside their daughter, Cassie. 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. DailyMail.com 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