Christopher and Roberta Laundrie were taken away in a police van Monday after FBI agents swarmed their North Port, Florida home. The property was declared an active crime scene as authorities searched for evidence in the missing person investigation. But as officials look to Gabby Petito’s missing boyfriend as a person of interest, many are wondering how much Brian’s parents know. Do they know where their son is? And how much are they withholding from the police?
Over the weekend, police discovered remains near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and they believe the remains belong to the missing 22-year-old girl. As authorities await autopsy results – which should reveal the identity and cause of death – more questions regarding the case begin to arise. If foul play was involved and Brian Laundrie faces criminal charges, what could happen to Brian’s parents? Have they been helping him cover up a possible crime?
So far, authorities have not given any indication that Brian’s parents Christopher and Roberta Laundrie have committed a crime. And as of Tuesday morning, no charges have been filed. According to former Florida assistant state attorney Alfredo Garcia, the parents likely won’t face criminal charges even if Brian Laundrie is charged.
“To charge someone as an accessory after the fact, you have to establish that the person knew that they were harboring someone who had committed a crime and they did so in a way to prevent the police from apprehending him,” He explained. Garcia is currently working as a professor at the St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens. He claimed that “that’s a fairly high threshold [authorities] have to find in terms of intent.”
As far as an obstruction of justice charge, Garcia was adamant that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie would likely avoid them entirely. He said that “I seriously doubt an obstruction charge now is in the cards.”
That sentiment was echoed in Former FBI Agent Olivier Farache’s statement to reporters. “I think it’s going to be very unlikely that anybody’s going to be charged other than Brian if it turns out he’s the one who is suspected of having committed the crime,” he said. “I think as a general rule it’s very difficult to charge parents for helping a kid if they weren’t part of the act itself.”
He continued, adding that “I can’t imagine a lot of prosecutorial resources going to go after the parents.” It was also reported that Brian’s parents remained silent for most of the investigation, especially when Brian Laundrie was said to be inside their home. Their lack of communication with police would work in their favor, throwing any charges of lying to authorities out the window.
Daniel Bibb, a former Manhattan prosecutor told the New York Post that “it depends on if they actively interfered in the investigation. They certainly can’t be charged with anything for refusing to speak to the police. But if they’re actively thwarting an investigation, they could.”
According to a report from Newsweek, if Christopher and Roberta Laundrie did withhold evidence from police regarding Brian Laundrie’s whereabouts or Gabby Petito’s disappearance, though, then it is certainly possible that charges are on the table.
A lot of it depends on “what ifs.” If it turns out that Brian’s parents made false statements or aided in their son’s escape, they can face charges. It’s also possible that they face “misprision of a felony.” According to federal law, it is a crime to conceal the knowledge of a felony. But as of now, it’s still unclear if a crime was committed.
There are two crucial next steps in the investigation. Now that authorities have completed their search of the Laundrie family’s home, they’ll need to investigate all they collected, including the family mustang and boxes of evidence.
The second is the autopsy of the remains found in Wyoming. According to a retired NYPD detective, “the autopsy really is the most important thing right now — and whatever else they find at the crime scene. If she fell, she could have blunt force trauma.”
“If she doesn’t appear to have fallen and she has a fractured skull, well, that shows something else,” the former detective continued. “Then you’re getting towards a homicide.”
There are still plenty of questions in the case. Even Brian Laundrie, who has evaded police communication since the investigation began, is only listed as a “person of interest.” No charges have been filed. This would make it increasingly hard to find Christopher and Roberta Laundrie guilty of any crimes.
But that hasn’t stopped Gabby Petito’s father, Joe Petito, from claiming the family should be held accountable. He said on an episode of Dr. Phil that “I hope they get what’s coming, and that includes his folks. Because I’ll tell you, right now, they are just as complicit, in my book.”
It was also said that the lawyer representing the Laundrie family, including Roberta and Christopher Laundrie, as well as Brian Laundrie, canceled a press conference scheduled for Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. in Long Island. Steven Bertolino did not explain why he chose to cancel the event, however, it was claimed to be related to his conversation with the FBI.
Beyond the parties involved, many people have shared their opinions on social media regarding the case. Some feel that the Laundrie family is heavily involved and blame the police for letting Brian Laundrie out of their sight.
“I’ve been sure his family has been in on it since the day their son came home without her,” one person wrote on Facebook. “They have NOT been forthcoming.”
Another person said that “they never should’ve taken their eyes off of that house and followed him – he never should’ve gotten away – just because he was a person of interest and not a subject doesn’t mean they couldn’t have followed him.”