NORTH PORT, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — NewsNation’s Brian Entin and former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer are once again answering viewer questions about the Gabby Petito investigation.
Why do you think the police brought in Christopher Laundrie [to help search for Brian] now rather than three weeks ago?
Coffindaffer: Well, I believe there’s always been an open invitation for the Laundries to cooperate. And in fact, I’m sure the FBI (officials) have invited him out there in the past, have offered for them to take a polygraph to exonerate any involvement in this situation, have asked to extensively interview them. And now, finally, he has agreed to accept this invitation. In addition, I think because the waters are receding, there are additional areas that they’re looking at that they feel he might be able to help assist in determining where Brian Laundrie in the past has camped, where he’s hiked, and possibly if they found some sort of campsite, he could assist with details concerning that.
Why was only Brian’s father, Chris, brought into the reserve to assist in the search today? Why was Brian’s mother not asked to join?
Entin: Well, we know Brian’s mother, Roberta, was inside the house the whole time today. She did not go to the reserve. We’re not exactly sure why, but according to the Laundrie family attorney, Mr. Bertolino, he says that Chris, Brian’s dad, and Brian would hike together at the reserve, and that Chris knew the areas of the reserve that Brian would frequent. So it would make sense that he would be the one to go out and assist police.
Do you think there is a possibility that Brian’s parents or at least Christopher may have made some kind of immunity deal with the FBI and that’s why he’s now assisting in the search for Brian?
Coffindaffer: No, I don’t believe there’s any immunity deal even on the table. And I believe if the FBI did want to get immunity from anyone, it would be Cassie Laundrie, because I think she’s already made overtures that she’s concerned about this entire situation. She came out — that was an overt act of being more forthright and being upset with this entire situation. And I think she’s about filled to here with it, and ready to come forward, possibly in the future.
Once Brian Laundrie is found, or if there’s some sort of resolution to the case, how much will the public find out? I know there’s a thirst for knowledge right now. Will we find out everything we’ve been waiting for about what happened and what the autopsy report said? Or, will they hold back and we will not have the whole picture?
Coffindaffer: The whole picture will become available to the public whenever the person who committed that murder is charged. And they have to go through, assuming they don’t plead guilty, a public trial. So you’re going to see those autopsy results. You’re going to see witness after witness concerning this case. You’re going to see evidence from that crime scene. You’re going to get to see everything that everybody is thirsting for, and that is what happened to Gabby specifically.
Just wondering if you knew of any details about the Appalachian Trail? Have the FBI searched it yet? Are they planning to search it? Or do we know of any details about it?
Entin: Well, we know that there is an investigation happening right now out at the Appalachian Trail, and I know that because just before the show tonight, I spoke to Denis the hiker again. You remember over the weekend, he’s the man who claims that he saw Brian Laundrie out there near the Tennessee/North Carolina border. He told me tonight that yesterday he met with FBI agents for 45 minutes, and that they took really detailed notes. He believes that they’re taking him seriously, and that the investigation is ongoing there.
Could it be possible that the FBI does in fact know the exact location of Brian Laundrie, but they’re just not ready yet to apprehend? And if this is possible, what would some of those reasons be?
Coffindaffer: The FBI does not know where Brian Laundrie is. If they did, they would immediately take him into custody. He would have to answer for the charges. He would be arrested and put in jail pending the outcomes of different hearings while the FBI could take more time to work on the overall murder investigation of Gabby Petito.
NewsNation’s Marni Hughes: Thinking about all of the time and the resources and the energy that the FBI is putting into this search right now … they don’t do that if they think somebody isn’t alive. What do you glean from the amount of effort in this investigation at this point?
Coffindaffer: They believe Brian Laundrie is alive. And they also don’t know want another situation where they haven’t thoroughly searched that reserve. I give you the example of Eric Rudolph, where for five years he evaded FBI detection and law enforcement detection. They do not want to leave any stone unturned at that reserve. But they’re keeping in mind where that information came from. The fact that the parents, that vehicle, they came back and got the vehicle, even though supposedly their son was there in the reserve.
Hughes: In any high-profile case that I’ve ever covered, and together, we’ve collectively covered, the investigators are typically out front answering questions daily on what they found, what they’re doing: What’s next. That’s not happening in the search for Brian Laundrie. Why is that, do you think?
Coffindaffer: Because they can’t have any facts coming through over the media that then might confuse what are true witness statements that are backed by facts those witnesses saw with their own eyes, as opposed that they found out are heard through the media. So it is crucial in this type of investigation that all evidence comes from witnesses and nothing is leaked to the media. Nothing.
Hughes: Brian, you’ve been in North Port for weeks now, watching that community as really the world’s eyes are on that spot of the country. How is the community responding? Are they saying anything? Is there a level of frustration growing not just on that street tonight but throughout North Port?
Entin: Absolutely. I mean, everybody in North Port is talking about this case and is frustrated. And frankly, most people that we talked to are upset with the Laundries, and wanting them to come forward with more information. I mean, everywhere you go to go buy a sandwich or to get gas for the car, everybody wants to talk about this case, and people who are really invested, obviously feeling bad for Gabby’s family. There’s actually a very large memorial right near North Port City Hall where every day we drive by, there’s people out there dropping off flowers. So this is this is deep-rooted here in North Port.
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