Family attorney pressed on what Laundrie told parents about Petito

During an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, refused to say whether Brian Laundrie told his parents anything about the disappearance of Gabby Petito. CNN's Nick Valencia reports.

Posted: Oct 23, 2021 9:11 AM


The discovery of Brian Laundrie's remains this week ends a manhunt that had gripped the country for weeks as investigators searched a Florida nature reserve for the 23-year-old, who returned home last month from a road trip without his fiancée, Gabby Petito.

Petito spent the summer traveling the American West with Laundrie, sharing their travels on social media. The case first attracted widespread attention after Petito's family reported her missing on September 11.

Laundrie would soon vanish from his parents' home in North Port, Florida, just days before Petito's remains were found in a national forest in Wyoming.

Investigators had since focused on locating Laundrie -- up until Wednesday, when he was finally found.

But there's still a lot we don't know.

Here's what experts say about uncovering the truth surrounding their deaths:

How did Laundrie die?

Dental records confirmed the remains found this week are Brian Laundrie, the FBI announced Thursday.

But determining the cause of death could be challenging since authorities recovered "skeletal remains," said retired FBI profiler Jim Clemente. He added that it's possible Laundrie could have been dead the entire time he was missing.

"It doesn't necessarily mean that," Clemente told CNN's Erin Burnett Thursday. "But what it does mean is that it's going to be much more difficult to make a good, solid determination as to the cause and manner of death."

"Unless there's some kind of major, serious trauma to the skull that can be identified, there might not be a way to determine how he died," he said. "If he drowned, for example, there wouldn't be any evidence of that on a skeleton."

The remains were found in an area of the Carlton Reserve -- a vast 25,000-acre nature preserve -- that had previously been underwater but recently dried out due to clearer weather.

Criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara said the most reasonable explanation is Laundrie took his own life in the nature reserve -- a possibility Steven Bertolino, an attorney for Laundrie's parents, addressed Friday in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."

The attorney and Laundrie's parents had discussed the possibility Laundrie died by suicide "several times," the attorney said.

"We just do not know. Of course, knowing his mental state when he walked out the door, it was always a concern," said Bertolino, who had described Laundrie in other interviews as "grieving."

Bertolino told GMA the family would accept the ruling of the medical examiner if they come up with another explanation for the cause of death.

Dr. Priya Banerjee, a forensic pathologist, agreed investigators face a challenge in determining Laundrie's cause of death. However, a notebook found near Laundrie's remains could be used by investigators to glean some insight into his death.

"Maybe the diary or other evidence can shed some light as to what happened," Banerjee said.

What happened in the time he was missing?

It's unclear how Laundrie spent his time in the reserve or when exactly he died.

For a month, investigators had their eyes trained on the Carlton Reserve, where Laundrie was believed to have gone when he left his parents' home in the days after Petito's family reported her missing.

The search through the reserve began on September 18, a day after Laundrie's parents filed a missing persons report for Laundrie, who they said had left the home days before and failed to return.

But the search proved to be difficult, with investigators working under extreme conditions. They were bogged down by the elements, wading through high water and trying to avoid dangerous wildlife. Conditions were so bad that survivalist experts were skeptical of Laundrie's ability to survive and told CNN weeks ago he was likely no longer alive or not in the reserve at all.

There are also lingering questions about when Laundrie left his parents' home and when law enforcement became aware his whereabouts were unknown.

The Laundrie family originally told police he left home Tuesday, September 14, but later changed their recollection to say he left the day before.

Bertolino told CNN's Chris Cuomo Wednesday he notified the FBI Laundrie hadn't returned from a hike in the Carlton Reserve the same day he left.

The FBI did not comment on the report, but North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor said his agency wasn't notified Laundrie didn't return from the hike until September 17. He said in a statement police believed he was home until that day, when the parents agreed to speak with police.

Regardless of when Laundrie left his parents' home, Taylor on Thursday rejected the idea that the belongings found in the reserve could have been recently planted, indicating they had been there for some time.

What happened to Gabby Petito?

Chief among the questions that are still unanswered are those about Petito's fate.

What we do know is this: Remains found September 19 in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming were identified as Petito, according to the FBI. The manner of death was ruled a homicide by Teton County Coroner Brent Blue, who said the cause of death was strangulation. She likely died about three to four weeks before her remains were found, he said.

But other details from the autopsy will not be released, per Wyoming law. Some details of Petito's death are still shrouded in mystery: When did she die and what led to her murder?

While the FBI described Laundrie Wednesday as a "person of interest" in Petito's murder, he did not face charges in her death. He was, however, indicted for allegedly using two financial accounts that did not belong to him in the days after her killing.

Again, experts pointed the notebook found near Laundrie's remains as a potential key to answering these questions.

"In terms of understanding Laundrie's motive, his feelings about Petito, maybe even any kind of notes or comments he may have made about the events we're still trying to understand in Wyoming -- that notebook could shed a lot of light on those issues," said former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Clemente, the retired FBI profiler, echoed those comments, telling CNN, "If that notebook contained, for example, information that could have been admissions, it could be projecting blame or rationalization -- all that information could help in the determination."

It remains unclear if the notebook will be useful. It was clearly wet when it was found outside of a dry bag authorities located during their search Wednesday, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN, describing it as "possibly salvageable."

"They are going to use any potential means to dry that out before opening it," the source said. "They'll be very careful with it."

Focus has also shifted to Laundrie's parents and whether their son told them anything about what happened to Petito before he vanished.

Petito's family had pleaded for the Laundries to cooperate with authorities after reporting her missing. When police showed up at the Laundrie home on September 11, asking to speak with Laundrie and his family, the Laundries directed authorities to their attorney, Taylor has said.

On Friday, Bertolino told GMA his clients had been cooperating with the FBI since "day one" of Brian's disappearance but said they had "absolutely nothing to say" about Petito.

Asked in the interview if Laundrie told his parents anything about Petito before going to the reserve last month, Bertolino said, "Not something I can comment on right now. I'd like to just leave it at that."

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5060048

Reported Deaths: 74129
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152429427102
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581500
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
Out of CA00
Medford
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 51°
Brookings
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 55°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 51°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 51°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 38°
Few showers for Saturday, drier weather for Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events

Latest Video

Image

Saturday, November 27th Weather

Image

SOU Men out shoot Antelope Valley, Women win 4th-straight

Image

Friday, November 26th Evening Weather

Image

Friday, November 26 weather

Image

Thursday, November 25th Evening Weather

Image

Pet of the Week: Bat, Hunk & Keith

Image

Thursday, November 25 afternoon weather

Image

Thursday, November 25 morning weather

Image

2021-2022 StormWatch 12 Winter Forecast

Image

Wednesday, November 24 Evening Weather