North Port, Florida, police admitted to making mistakes in the Brian Laundrie case on Monday. One of those included mistaking Laundrie for his mother, Roberta Laundrie, while their family home was under surveillance. A police spokesman admitted that when officers thought they saw Laundrie return to his parents' home on Sept. 15, they were really watching his mother, North Port police public information officer Josh Taylor told WINK News Monday.
Police set up cameras around the home at first, but that was unsuccessful. Officers watching the home saw Laundrie leave in a grey Mustang on Monday, Sept. 13, two days after Gabby Petito's parents reported her missing. Police thought Laundrie returned to the home on Sept. 15. The following day, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison told reporters that they knew where Laundrie was, confident that he was still in the house. This was not the case, as Laundrie's parents reported him missing on Sept. 17, first telling police they hadn't seen him since Sept. 14. They later changed that, saying the last time they saw him was on Sept. 13.
Police actually saw Laundrie's mother, Roberta, return to the home on Sept. 15 in the Mustang, but they mistook her for her son. "They're kind of built similarly," Taylor told WINK when asked how they could make that mistake. "They had returned from the park with that Mustang," Taylor continued. "So who does that? Right? Like, if you think your son's missing since Tuesday, you're going to bring his car back to the home. So it didn't make sense that anyone would do that if he wasn't there. So the individual getting out with a baseball cap we thought was Brian." Taylor later told the station that "no case is perfect" when admitting the department made the costly mistake.
Laundrie's remains and belongings were found at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida on Oct. 20. The following day, the FBI said dental records confirmed the remains were Laundrie's. The 23-year-old was the person of interest in Petito's death but was never charged. There was a federal warrant out for his arrest for allegedly using a debit card that wasn't his to withdraw money from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.
Petito, 22, and Laundrie spent most of the summer driving across the country, chronicling the trip on social media. Petito's family stopped hearing from her in late August, and Laundrie arrived in Florida on Sept. 1 without her. Her family reported her missing on Sept. 11. On Sept. 19, her body was found in a Wyoming national park, and the cause of death was determined to be strangulation.