After finding human remains at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, forensic teams have determined that they belong to Brian Laundrie. Now, they must determine the cause of death which will be a much more difficult task.
While details surrounding the remains are scarce, authorities did state that among the collection of bones was a partial skull. From that skull, they were able to match dental records to Laundrie for positive identification. The area where they found the remains was previously underwater. As a result, search teams were unable to successfully search for any sign of Brian Laundrie there. Once the water receded, they located several personal items that belonged to Laundrie as well as his remains.
The water’s effect on the human remains could very well be detrimental to determining the cause of death. According to Jennifer Shen, forensics expert and former director of the San Diego Police Crime Lab, Brian Laundrie’s remains could be at an advanced stage of decomposition from its exposure to the water, erasing crucial evidence in his cause of death.
“Anytime a body has been exposed to the elements, particularly ones as devastating as those found in swampy water, physical clues leading to cause of death, information about injuries, and sometimes the ability to identify a body can be very difficult to find,” Shen told The U.S. Sun.
Unless the remains sustained “severe trauma to the skeletal structure of the body,” proving Brian Laundrie’s cause of death “will be very difficult to determine.”
“Hanging, overdose, positional asphyxiation, all will be difficult, if not impossible to determine as the mechanism of death,” she continued.
Forensic Expert Names Another Element That Could Affect Brian Laundrie’s Remains
While the creek water’s effect on Brian Laundrie’s remains is certainly the most concerning, it isn’t the only element that could have a toll on the investigation. The other significant factor is the role of animal life in the area. Likely, part of the reason that most of Laundrie’s remains are missing is that scavengers picked apart the body.
“To make things even more complex, there is likely to have been significant animal activity, perhaps leading to missing limbs, or adding damage to the body not related to cause or manner of death,” Shen shared.
Officials have confirmed that predators and scavengers like alligators and snakes roam the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. It’s very possible that either of these animals ingested part of Brian Laundrie’s body or damaged the remaining skeleton.
As police continue to hunt for answers revolving around Brian Laundrie’s death, they are also hoping that Laundrie’s personal items will offer some clues. At the environmental park, police found two bags and a notebook of Laundrie’s.
“The notebook could be very significant in this case,” Shen said. “If Brian did take his own life, it’s not uncommon to find a suicide note of some kind.”