NORTH PORT, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Florida authorities continue to search for Brian Laundrie, who is wanted for questioning in the disappearance of 22-year-old Gabby Petito, his girlfriend, whose body was discovered in a Wyoming national park weeks after the couple set out on a cross-country trek.
Laundrie was last seen Tuesday entering the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve but was not reported missing until Friday. Investigators had focused intently on the area after Laundrie’s parents told police he may have gone there. North Port police are using drones and helicopters to survey the area.
Former Miami-Dade County prosecutor Mark Eiglarsh says Laundrie’s parents could potentially face a series of charges. In one legal scenario, he believes the family could face up to five years if they provided support to Brian.
“I was hoping that they could be charged with being an accessory after the fact — assuming they assisted him and knew that he had done something nefarious,” Eiglarsh said. “I just checked the statute again, and I was mistaken. There are exceptions for parents. If you’re a parent, if you are a husband or wife of another, that charge doesn’t seem to apply. However, let’s say they tampered with evidence in any way … no exception for mom or dad on that one. They could be facing up to five years in prison as a third-degree felony here in Florida.”
As for Brian’s parent’s being charged with obstruction of justice, Eiglarsh believes that could also be on the table.
“That could work. And again, we’re speculating here as a defense lawyer. Let me just throw out, maybe they limited what they knew from him. One of these ‘I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know [situations]’ or maybe he indicated somehow that things weren’t good, but never really shared with them precisely what he was up to.”
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Eiglarsh says he’s a father of three himself and — if he found himself in the Laundrie family’s position — he would be conflicted.
“I don’t want to put my finger outward because I got three pointing back at me. If I was placed in that position, I candidly don’t know what I do,” he said. “I know I’d want to preserve my son’s life, or my daughter or my other son. That said, what these people are doing, assuming they knowingly send police in the wrong direction. I have no problem with them being prosecuted for the crime for the choices that they’re making.”