Brian Laundrie died from a gunshot wound to the head, his family’s lawyer announced on Tuesday following an autopsy. The determination puts an end to speculation over how he died. Though police still haven’t closed the death investigation into his fiancee, Gabby Petito.
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide,” attorney Steven Bertolino said in a statement. “Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families.”
Police considered Brian Laundrie a person of interest in the death of Gabby Petito. Though they never called him a suspect in the case. The two were on a cross-country trip when he returned home without her on Sept. 1. Investigators found her body buried in a shallow grave in a remote area in Grand Teton National Park. Someone strangled her to death.
Investigators wanted to speak with Laundrie, but he vanished on Sept. 14, which sparked a nationwide manhunt. Police found his body near his parents’ Florida home at a nature preserve a month after he disappeared. His body had been there for weeks, and the elements destroyed most of the evidence. Police called in a forensic anthropologist to determine the cause of death. Investigators delivered that report to Laundrie’s parents this week.
Authorities still haven’t said if they believe Laundrie killed his fiancée. The FBI still hopes forensic scientists can help decipher what was in his journal, which agents found waterlogged near his body.
It’s unclear when investigators will return his remains to his family.
Former Agent: FBI Will Update Information in Gabby Petito Case
Internet sleuths and investigators stayed focused on Brian Laundrie soon after he returned home without Gabby Petito. Her parents reported her missing to the police on Sept. 11. He was the last person to see her alive, and police said he is the only person of interest in the case. Why they haven’t closed their investigations into her death or his has vexed people following the case.
Former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer said she expects that the FBI will soon give an update on the case with the information they’ve collected. She says agents will likely remain on the case until they solve it, regardless of whether the suspect is dead or not.
“The FBI will release some sort of presser indicating who they believe was responsible for this crime,” Coffindaffer told Ashleigh Banfield.
That could be a sliver of good news for Gabby Petito’s family. Though it could be devastating for Brian Laundrie’s parents. Coffindaffer said that if they aided in his escape or destroyed any evidence, the FBI will find out.
“Do I think that they’re probably going to be charged with the evidence we have out in the public? No, but the FBI could have more information pertaining to an obstruction charge,” Coffindaffer said.
People have long speculated that Laundrie’s parents may have helped him escape investigators. They waited three days to report him missing to investigators — those their attorney disputes this — and they stonewalled investigators after Petito’s parents reported her missing.