With Petito case closed, federal prosecutors drop bank fraud charges against Brian Laundrie

Roughly a month after Gabby Petito’s body was found in a Wyoming national park, her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, was found dead in a Florida nature preserve following a weeks-long manhunt.

Laundrie had been the sole “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance and death, and prosecutors were swift to indict him on charges of bank fraud for allegedly using her debit card after she died. Now, with both the victim and the perpetrator dead, the federal charges have been dropped, Fox News reports.

The decision to drop the criminal charges against Laundrie was expected and is largely a formality, as his own death superseded prosecutors’ ability to try and convict him.

Charges dropped

In its report, Fox revealed that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wyoming filed court papers this week seeking the dismissal of the bank fraud charges that were previously filed against Laundrie “for the reason that the Defendant is deceased.”

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Scott Skavdahl agreed with the filing and granted the request, given that Laundrie’s death made it impossible for him to stand trial.

In a single-page order, Skavdahl dismissed the charges “with prejudice,” meaning they can’t be brought up again in the future — another formality since, again, Laundrie is dead and incapable of being tried for any crimes.

A closed case

The move by the U.S. Attorney’s Office comes less than a week after the FBI Denver office issued a press release formally closing the case of Petito’s death and disappearance.

“All logical investigative steps have been concluded in this case,” FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said in the statement. “The investigation did not identify any other individuals other than Brian Laundrie directly involved in the tragic death of Gabby Petito.”

“The FBI’s primary focus throughout the investigation was to bring justice to Gabby and her family,” Schneider added. “The public’s role in helping us in this endeavor was invaluable as the investigation was covered in the media around the world. On behalf of the FBI, I want to express my deepest appreciation to the public for the thousands of tips that were provided during the investigation, and to our local, state and federal law enforcement partners for their work throughout the investigation.”

Questions answered

In its press release, the FBI provided a timeline of events uncovered during their investigation, including Laundrie’s alleged fraudulent use of Petito’s bank cards without authorization, which apparently occurred after Petito was killed.

The release also noted that a notebook found near Laundrie’s body contained “written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death” and revealed that a revolver also discovered nearby — in conjunction with the findings of a medical examiner — had led to the conclusion that “Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Petito, for her part, was reported missing back in September 2021 and found dead roughly a week later, according to the New York PostLaundrie’s remains were found in Florida in late October.

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