Police in Florida said that Brian Laundrie had “probably” killed himself by the time they took the lead in the search for him, according to a local report.
Laundrie was found dead on October 20 in Florida’s Carlton Reserve following a lengthy search. The 23-year-old, a suspect in the homicide of his fiancée Gabby Petito, went missing some five weeks earlier.
The results of Laundrie’s initial autopsy were inconclusive, but North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison gave his view at a community event Friday night, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
“That guy went out there and by all accounts probably committed suicide and he was right out there where we thought he was,” the paper reported him as saying.
North Port Police took over the investigation, with FBI support, on September 15. At the time it was primarily a search for Petito, who was found dead on September 19.
Unbeknown to them, Laundrie had already disappeared by then. Laundrie’s parents would later report him missing, but not for another two days.
Garrison admitted his team mistook Laundrie’s mother for him while monitoring the family home on September 15. This led them to believe he was at home when he wasn’t.
The mistake led Garrison to tell the media the next day that he knew of Laundrie’s whereabouts.
Garrison apologized for the “human error” to members of the South County Tiger Bay Club, according to the Herald Tribune. “The surveillance team told me ‘Chief, Brian was seen going inside the house,'” he said.
“Now, we know that, by the time we became the lead agency, Brian had already left the house and presumably had already been deceased out in the Carlton Reserve,” the paper reported Garrison as saying.
Surveillance of the Laundrie was taking place while neither Laundrie nor his parents would cooperate with authorities in the search for Petito, and Laundrie was named a person of interest in her disapperance.
Laundrie and Petito had set out on a cross-country road trip together in June, documenting their travels on social media before their relationship appeared to turn sour.
Petito’s remains were found on September 19. A coroner later determined she had died by strangulation, though authorities have never named a suspect in her killing.