FBI: Remains found in Florida nature preserve belong to Brian Laundrie

The New York Times reported late Thursday that the FBI had confirmed that remains found in Florida’s Carlton Reserve are those of Brian Laundrie. But as of the time of this writing, his parents have been eerily quiet about the development.

Laundrie, 23, went missing last month after returning home from a cross-country road trip without his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, who had accompanied him on the trip. Petito’s body was later found in a national park in Wyoming.

Laundrie is the only individual who has been named a person of interest in her death, and a warrant had been issued for his arrest on charges related to debit card fraud. A coroner recently ruled that Petito died by strangulation.

Remains identified

According to NBC News, Laundrie’s remains were found Wednesday in what was described as “a sprawling Florida wildlife refuge.” Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta, had joined the search that day and, according to their lawyer, “were at the reserve…when human remains and some of Brian’s possessions were located.”

Dental records were used to identify the remains, which were also found alongside “articles belonging to Brian,” according to a statement from the Laundries’ lawyer, Steve Bertolino.

Bertolino said in a statement Wednesday that Chris and Roberta Laundrie would “wait for the forensic identification of the human remains before making additional comments.” After the remains were identified, the lawyer issued another statement, shared by the local Fox 13 News, that effectively said nothing:

Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are indeed Brian’s. We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundrie’s privacy at this time.

Speculation mounts

Now, NBC reports that the family’s effective silence is doing little to quell speculation. One expert who spoke with the network said “it’s likely that [Brian] Laundrie’s parents made the decision to involve themselves publicly in the search with the direction of their attorney.”

In late September, Bertolino said unequivocally that the Laundries did “not know where Brian is.”

“They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him,” the attorney added, according to NBC. “The speculation by the public and some in the press that the parents assisted Brian in leaving the family home or in avoiding arrest on a warrant that was issued after Brian had already been missing for several days is just wrong.”

Questions remain

According to Fox News, FBI Special Agent Michael McPherson, in charge of the bureau’s Tampa division, told reporters Wednesday that the remains and items belonging to Brian Laundrie that were found in the Carlton Reserve “were found in an area that, up until recently, had been underwater,” complicating the investigation. “Our evidence response team is on scene using all available forensic resources to process the area,” McPherson said. “It’s likely the team will be on scene for several days.”

As NBC notes, Chris and Roberta Laundrie have not been accused of wrongdoing by any law enforcement agencies. Still, a retired police officer told the network that it’s “certainly fair to question as to what may have transpired between law enforcement, prosecutors and the parents.”

“Authorities do walk a fine line in terms of alienating the parents and receiving no information or cooperation from them whatsoever; it’s a delicate balance,” Thomas Nolan, who served nearly three decades as an officer with the Boston Police Department, told NBC. With that, it seems Americans still have more questions than answers in this case.

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