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Did Brian Laundrie's Parents Know More About Gabby Petito's Murder -- And Did They Tell The FBI To Avoid Obstruction Charges?

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While many were relieved that Brian Laundrie’s parents decided to join the search for their missing son after doing little to help for over a month, their sudden about-face still felt a bit random.

Not according to law enforcement experts, though, who apparently believe that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie finally joined the search for their son to avoid obstruction charges! Not only that, they may have done a lot more than guide authorities through the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park…

Despite multiple unconfirmed sightings across the states and a reality show of a search led by Dog The Bounty Hunter in Florida’s Fort De Soto Park, feds had apparently been staying focused on Carlton Reserve ever since Laundrie was reported missing by his parents on September 17.

As we reported, Brian’s parents finally joined the search for the 23-year-old fugitive on Wednesday; weirdly enough, cops miraculously located his backpack, notepad, and possible remains in Florida swampland just hours later. Despite the suspicious timing, though, authorities said the breakthrough came because receding water levels in the area gave searchers more access to Brian’s favorite trails and hangout spots.

Related: Why Gabby’s Friends Want Brian ‘To Be Alive’

Even though it may seem from the outside like the Laundries had a sudden change of heart, former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan thinks the parents only started cooperating with officials to save their own skin, with authorities giving them a behind-the-scenes ultimatum to either help find Brian or face years behind bars! Kaplan told

“There’s no doubt that Brian Laundrie’s parents are fully engaged with law enforcement. I do believe that there was some sort of agreement where they accepted immunity in exchange for their full cooperation.”

And that doesn’t just mean telling authorities how to find Brian’s favorite hiking spots. Kaplan thinks the beleaguered parents spilled everything they knew about Gabby Petito’s murder to the FBI — everything!

Kaplan, now a criminal defense lawyer, went on to speculate that Laundrie’s parents were conflicted with helping officials and protecting their son during the five week manhunt, sharing:

“I think from the very beginning that Brian Laundrie’s parents were torn between wanting to protect their son and not wanting to cross a line that would put them in the crosshairs of law enforcement. If you lie to a federal agent, mislead them or give them false information that can lead to prosecution for obstruction of justice and you could be looking at five years in jail. And it’s an easy trap to fall into.”

Initially, the couple told the North Port Police Department they last saw Brian when he left to go hiking at the reserve on September 14, leaving his Ford Mustang parked nearby and never coming back to it. But the pair raised eyebrows when they suddenly “revised” their timeline, saying through their attorney, Steven Bertolino, that they last saw their son on the evening of September 13.

Retired FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer told DM that if Laundrie’s parents knew his whereabouts, they could be vulnerable to aiding and abetting charges. However, she noted that authorities would need compelling evidence in the event Brian was confirmed dead, explaining:

“That evidence could include text messages telling him to run or telling him they were going to destroy evidence… There’s no blood involved in a strangulation but there could be some cells on his clothing. I think the strongest possibility would be an obstruction charge on the cleaning of the Petito van.”

Coffindaffer went on to say that without such evidence, prosecutors can’t force Christopher and Roberta into revealing what their son told them in the 12 days he spent at home before disappearing. She explained:

“They can’t be compelled. But you would hope, especially since now that it appears their son is dead, that if they are decent people they will disclose what they know. The guilt builds and I would not be surprised at all if one of them came forward, eventually, although it could take a long time.”

At a briefing Wednesday afternoon, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson confirmed that human remains had been found in an area of the Carlton Reserve that was previously submerged in water. (He also called the case a “murder” for the first time.)

The condition of the remains found were not disclosed, but Kaplan said the use of cadaver dogs over a wide section of swamp is telling, explaining:

“The reality is very morbid but when you’re exposed to the natural elements, wildlife can be drawn to the body. You only have to live in Florida for a brief period of time and know we’re surrounded by coyotes, alligators, bobcats, even panthers. So I think the fact that you saw the cadaver dogs gridding that area leads me to believe that there were parts that would not be intact and that may have been scattered about. They may have some difficulty in retrieving the entire body.”

As for what Brian might have been doing in the area, Coffindaffer offered a morbid theory:

“I think Brian went there to kill himself. The fact that he left behind his wallet and his phone, leads me to believe that he planned this. It’s terribly sad for the Petitos but there’s no way to get closure, honestly, if he doesn’t go to trial. And it looks increasingly like that’s going to be the case here.”

Tragic all round.

[Image via Gabby Petito/Instagram/FoxNewsDigital/YouTube]

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Oct 21, 2021 12:05pm PDT