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Brian Laundrie Was Likely Dead When Cops Confused His Mother for Him During Surveillance: Police

People logo People 10/27/2021 Chris Harris
gabby petito/ instagram Brian Laundrie © Provided by People gabby petito/ instagram Brian Laundrie

Authorities believe Brian Laundrie was likely already dead when officers surveilling his parents' Florida home mistook his mother for him.

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.

Brian Laundrie © gabby petito/ instagram Brian Laundrie

Investigators who began monitoring the comings and goings at the Laundrie home on Sept. 12 mistook Laundrie's mother for him on Sept. 13, after she drove up in her son's grey Ford Mustang.

Roberta Laundrie, according to Taylor, was wearing a baseball cap at the time.

Taylor told WINK on Monday the mother and son are "built similarly."

RELATED: Laundrie Family Attorney Says FBI Has 'Everything They Need' for Gabby Petito Murder Probe

In a statement to PEOPLE, Taylor says that "this misidentification did not have a big impact on costs and the investigation."

He adds: "Other than confusion, it likely changed nothing. There is a very good possibility that Brian was already deceased. He still needed to be found. We just wanted people to better understand why we thought we knew Brian was in his home."

Officials had assured the public at a Sept. 16 news conference that they were aware of Brian's whereabouts.


Video: Police admit they confuses Brian Laundrie's mother for him (Daily Mail)

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Taylor says in his statement the belief that Laundrie was still inside his parents' home "was a direct result of a lack of cooperation from the family early on in this investigation."

Christopher and Roberta Laundrie reported Brian missing on Sept. 17.

RELATED: Police Tried to Surveil Brian Laundrie — Then Lost Track of Him When They Confused Him for His Mom: Report

Laundrie's skeletal remains were located Oct. 20 in Florida's Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.

The results of an autopsy on Brian's remains, found near his backpack and a notebook of his, were inconclusive. The remains will be further examined by an anthropologist.

The coroner's office has yet to determine when Laundrie may have died.

According to authorities, Petito died from strangulation while on a two-month-long, cross-country road trip with Laundrie, who was named a person of interest in Petito's disappearance on Sept. 15 — two weeks after he returned home alone.

The 22-year-old Long Island, N.Y., woman's remains were found in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park on Sept. 19.

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Brian's family refused to meet with the FBI to discuss Petito's missing persons case, referring them instead to their attorney, Steven Bertolino, a longtime family friend.

A week later, the Laundrie family reached out to the FBI to alert investigators that their son was missing. Bertolino said Brian was visibly upset as he was leaving their home on Sept. 13.

The Laundries said Brian told them he was headed out for a hike in the nearby Carlton Reserve.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie Was Visibly 'Upset' When He Left Home for Last Time, but Parents 'Couldn't Stop Him': Lawyer

The FBI and local Florida authorities quickly launched a search for Brian in the 25,000-acre nature preserve, wading waist-deep through snake- and alligator-infested swamps in some areas.

Brian was never charged with Petito's death or disappearance, and a suspect for those crimes has not yet been identified by the FBI.

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