The FBI has confirmed through dental records that human remains and belongings—including bones, a notebook, and a backpack—found Wednesday at Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park were those of Brain Laundrie. Now, a veteran New York City police detective is questioning how the late fugitive’s parents happened to be on the scene when they were discovered.
Laundrie, 23, was last seen alive—according to his parents and their lawyer—on September 13, and was a person of interest in the strangling murder of his fiancée, “Van Life” blogger Gabby Petito, 22. Petito’s body was found in Wyoming on September 19, months after she’d embarked on a cross-country trip with Laundrie, who returned alone shortly before disappearing into the vast Florida reserve.
His parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, were taking part in the search with members of the FBI and North Port, Florida, police Wednesday when the remains were found, with CNN reporting that it was Chris Laundrie who first spotted them.
“There are just too many strange turns that Chris and Roberta Laundrie haven’t been involved in it to not believe that something is amiss here,” former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce tells ABC 7.
At a Wednesday press conference, Special Agent Michael McPherson, head of the FBI’s Tampa division, said, “These items were found in an area that, up until recently, had been underwater. Our evidence response team is on scene using all available forensic resources to process the area.”
McPherson added, “It’s likely the team will be on scene for several days.”
Boyce thinks the Laundries’s timing is remarkable.
“The day the park reopens,” he told the station, “they go into this specific area… they go to this exact spot and they find the backpack and they identify the backpack from what I understand and the notebook in this particular area, so it’s quite strange.”
Boyce believes the Laundries may have been tipped off somehow to know precisely where to look for their son, saying, “So, they go to this one location, this remote location where it’s a path where people go by… and they’re being told by the FBI agent that all of a sudden we found something, we found the remains… so there’s a lot of things here that don’t add up to coincidence, so you wonder how they got there and what they knew all along.”
The Laundries’ attorney, Steven Bertolino, said in a statement Wednesday, before the remains were found, “Chris and Roberta Laundrie went to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park this morning to search for Brian. The FBI and NPPD were informed last night of Brian’s parents’ intentions and they met Chris and Roberta there this morning. After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented some articles belonging to Brian were found. As of now law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of that area.”
Speaking to CNN on Wednesday, Bertolino added, “It’s quite sad, you can imagine as a parent, finding your son’s belongings alongside some remains. That’s got to be heartbreaking. And I can tell you that they are heartbroken.”
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