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Sheriff Kurt Hoffman of Sarasota County, Florida said it is most likely that 23-year-old Brian Laundrie took his own life while police still believed that he was at home with his parents.
This would have occurred days before Gabby Petito’s body was found in the Wyoming wilderness and before Laundrie himself was reported missing.
Laundrie was most likely already deceased throughout the whole high-profile manhunt to determine his whereabouts, officials say.
Skeletal remains were found on Oct. 20 at the Carlton Reserve near his parents’ home in North Port, Florida.
Authorities were combing the park for any trace of the missing man, but the entire area had been underwater until recently.
“That guy went out there and by all accounts probably committed suicide and he was right out there where we thought he was,” Hoffman said.
“There was four feet of water out there at the time,” Hoffman added.
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Laundrie and Petito, who had been dating since high school and were engaged, had been taking a lengthy tour of national parks in their refurbished van when Petito’s family last heard from her on Aug. 25.
Although they did not report her missing until Sept. 11, Laundrie returned home alone on Sept. 1, and the Petitos have said they were initially stonewalled by his family.
Chris and Roberta Laundrie reported their son missing on Sept. 17, although he left their house to take a walk on the reserve on Sept. 13 and never came home.
The public did not know that Brian was missing as the Laundrie family released a statement saying that at the advice of counsel he would be remaining in the “background” of the search for Petito, whose remains had not yet been found.
In the days between when Laundrie’s parents say he initially went missing and when they told police that he’d never come home, the Petitos also released an open letter to the family begging them to cooperate with police.
“Please, if you or your family has any decency left, please tell us where Gabby is located. Tell us if we are even looking in the right place,” the letter urged, according to ABC News. “All we want is Gabby to come home. Please help us make that happen.”
Sadly, it appears that as the Petitos made this heartbreaking plea, both their daughter and Laundrie were already gone.
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