Gabby Petito Case: Brian Laundrie's Family Lawyer Slams Rumor Parents Planted Evidence

On Oct. 20, investigators found human remains and personal items that belonged to Brian Laundrie in a Florida nature park. Lawyer Steve Bertolino denies rumors that Laundrie's parents planted evidence

By Elyse Dupre Oct 22, 2021 6:31 PMTags
Watch: Brian Laundrie Found Dead After Month-Long Manhunt

Lawyer Steve Bertolino, who represents Brian Laundrie's family, is denying rumors that parents Chris and Roberta planted evidence found at a Florida nature park before their son's body was found.

"It's nonsense," the family's lawyer told People in a statement. He later added, "People with nothing else to do are afraid this case will go away and they will have to go back to following celebrities and others in the fake world of the internet." 

The rumor appeared to stem from an Oct. 20 trip Laundrie's parents took to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which connects to the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve in Florida. Bertolino told NBC News that Chris and Roberta had gone to the reserve to search for Brian that morning and that the FBI and North Port Police Department were informed of their visit and met them that morning.

"After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented some articles belonging to Brian were found," Bertolino continued. "As of now law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of that area."

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Investigators found human remains on Oct. 20, along with personal items, including a backpack and a notebook, that belonged to Laundrie. FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson said at a news conference that these items were found in an area that, up until recently, had been underwater. 

On Oct. 21, the FBI announced that comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains were Laundrie's.

"Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are indeed Brian's," Bertolino said in a statement. "We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundrie's privacy at this time."

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The discovery comes after a five-week manhunt for Laundrie. His parents told police they had not seen him since mid-September, when he reportedly went for a hike in the reserve but never came back. 

Laundrie was the former fiancé of Gabby Petito. Over the summer, the couple went on a cross-country road trip, which they documented on social media. But on Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to his family's home in Florida alone. 

Petito's family reported her missing on Sept. 11 and a search began. About a week later, on Sept. 19, the FBI announced that human remains consistent with the description of Petito had been found at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue later confirmed the remains were Petito's and ruled her manner of death to be a homicide. On Oct. 12, the coroner listed her cause of death as strangulation and estimated her time of death to be three to four weeks before her body was found. He also confirmed Petito was not pregnant at the time of her death. 

Laundrie was named a person of interest, not a suspect, in the case of Petito's disappearance. He was also charged with unauthorized use of a debit card, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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