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Retired U.S. Marshal Says Brian Laundrie's Parents' Actions Don't Make Sense

Newsweek logo Newsweek 10/18/2021 Jack Dutton
Brian Laundrie was reported missing days before the discovery of his girlfriend Gabby Petito's body and a manhunt has focused on an inhospitable Florida wildlife reserve © Utah Police Brian Laundrie was reported missing days before the discovery of his girlfriend Gabby Petito's body and a manhunt has focused on an inhospitable Florida wildlife reserve

As the search for Brian Laundrie enters its fifth week, a former U.S. Marshall says that his parents' actions around the death of the fugitive's fiancée Gabby Petito don't make sense.

Laundrie is missing and has been named as a person of interest in Petito's death. Petito was declared missing on September 11, 10 days after not returning from a cross-country tour of national parks with Laundrie.

Lenny DePaul, a former 30-year veteran of the U.S. Marshal Service and onetime commander of the New York and New Jersey Fugitive Task Force, spoke with Australian channel 9Now in an interview aired on Sunday.

On the show, the host said: "Even to the broader public, there's a lot about this case that doesn't add up." DePaul responded: "Absolutely."

Asked whether he believes Laundrie's parents are helping him, DePaul says: "I think Brian's parents did help him. Gabby lived in Florida with them, they got engaged, he shows up in the van without her. What does he tell his parents? 'So we broke up, I left her out there I just decided to drive the van back home and, you know, let's go camping. It just doesn't make sense."

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Petito was last seen alive in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie on August 25. She was found dead in Grand Teton National Park on September 19, and officials have ruled that her death was a homicide. On October 12, a Wyoming coroner confirmed Petito had died of strangulation.

Laundrie returned to his parent's house in North Fort, Florida, without Petito on September 1. He was declared missing on September 17.

Human remains discovered in Teton County on September 19 were "consistent with the description" of Petito, FBI officials reported to local media, and on September 20 Brian Laundrie's parents were questioned at their home by the FBI, with the home later searched.

Laundrie's parents issued a statement through their lawyer several days after the remains were found, saying the "news about Gabby Petito is heartbreaking" we're praying "for Gabby and her family."

Laundrie's parents initially said they last saw their son on September 14, telling authorities at the time they believed he was heading to the Carlton Reserve nearby to hike or camp. They later changed that date to September 13.

However, Laundrie's father Chris Laundrie joined the search for his son on October 7, suggesting the family could be cooperating with law enforcement.

In an interview that aired on the Today show that aired on October 6, Petito's parents said when they stopped hearing from Gabby, their first calls and texts were to Brian Laundrie's parents. They said the Laundries never replied.

It has been reported that the Laundries had gone camping on September 6 and 7, but questions can be raised about why they allegedly did not respond to desperate phone calls and text messages from the Petitos.

DePaul said in the 9Now interview that something always gives fugitives away, especially for someone like Laundrie who's shared so much of his life on social media.

"I've seen it all, he's not a career criminal," DePaul said. "He doesn't know how to play fugitive as I would say, so he's got it rough out there wherever he is. I think he's scared. He's definitely sleeping with one eye open and you know it's a matter of time. I always say 'you can run, but you can hide, and when you run, you only go to jail tired'."

Asked how damaging being on the run might be for Laundrie, DePaul said: "Innocent people don't run, and Brian sending a message to God and everybody that he may be the number one suspect in this case."

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