Sheriff says Laundrie likely committed suicide

Gabby Petito Case

Though people following the saga of Gabby Petito are eager for new information on the deaths of Petito and her former boyfriend Bridan Laundrie, the FBI, which is the lead agency on the investigation, has been totally quiet in recent days. The agency has made no official new statements since confirming Laundrie’s remains were found.

But little bits of information are slowly coming out – including the Sarasota County sheriff suggesting Laundrie likely committed suicide.

Petito, 22, was discovered slain in September on the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, one of the places the young couple had visited on the trip they documented through social media videos.

An autopsy in Wyoming concluded Petito died by strangulation and that it was a homicide. Laundrie, 23, was listed as a “person of interest” in her killing but he was charged only with fraudulent use of a debit card that was not his.

His remains were found in a nature preserve not far from his family’s home in North Port, Florida, where he and Petito had been living. Both were originally from Long Island, New York.

Laundrie returned home alone Sept. 1 from his trip with Petito. Her body was found Sept. 19 in the Wyoming park and authorities say it had been there for about a month.

Laundrie told his parents Sept. 13 he was headed to the Carlton Reserve park in Sarasota County. That was the last publicly known contact anyone had with him.

North Port police Chief Todd Garrison told reporters Sept. 16 that he knew where Laundrie was. That turned out not to be the case, with the department admitting it thought it had eyes on the missing man – but they were actually watching Brian Laundrie’s mother, Roberta.

And now the chief is clarifying that mistake further.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune is reporting that Garrison said at a town hall meeting Friday, “As a leader, what do I do? Do I not tell the public what’s going on? Do we conceal it, cover it up? No, people want open transparency and honesty from their law enforcement officials. Yes, we made a mistake, it was human error, but I still stand behind my team.”

The chief also said that by the time the North Port Police Department became the lead agency on the case, Brian Laundrie had already left his parents’ house and “presumably” was already dead in the Carlton Reserve.

Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman also spoke at Friday’s forum, defending Garrison and saying of Laundrie, “That guy went out there and by all accounts probably committed suicide, and he was right out there where we thought he was. There was four feet of water out there at the time.”

So far, the FBI has not released Brian Laundrie’s cause of death. and the investigation into Petito’s final days is ongoing.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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