Brian Laundrie’s family lawyer has been forced to debunk rumours that Brian’s parents, Chris and Roberta, planted his possessions in Carlton Reserve before they were found by police.
Steven Bertolino gave his first interview after human remains, a backpack and notebook were discovered in the manhunt for Brian, who has been named a “person of interest” in the homicide of his 22-year-old girlfriend Gabby Petito.
Gabby’s body was found in a campground in Wyoming on September 19th, as her “manner of death” was deemed as homicide by strangulation by local county coroner in the following weeks.
In the weeks following her death, an active search for her fiancé Brian Laundrie continued in the dense reserve in Florida, which turned up the “partial remains” and personal items, all likely belonging to the 23-year-old.
Mr Bertolini announced that Brian’s father Chris had found the items, after only being inside the nature reserve for less than 30 minutes.
“That area was under water and you can certainly understand why you may not have been able to locate it until today,” Mr Bertolino told CNN.
“If water had cleared two weeks ago perhaps they (police) could have circled back to search again. Perhaps they meant to … but never got back to this part because it is so near to the entrance.”
“Chris and Roberta went to this area first … and they stumbled upon these items.”
CNN host Chris Cuomo questioned the family lawyer, asking if it was unusual that Brian’s parents happened upon the key evidence in such a short amount of time, despite dogs and search personnel combing the area previously.
“Some people don’t believe how the events laid out today … but Chris and Roberta walked into the preserve, and they were followed closely by two law personnel,” Mr Bertolino explained, calling any allegation that Chris had “planted” the bag that he found as “hogwash”.
“And when I say close … I mean within eyeshot. As they went further in, Chris went off the trail and into the woods. He was zigzagging in different areas … law enforcement was doing the same thing.”
“Roberta Laundrie was walking down the trail … and at some point Chris locates what is called a ‘dry bag’. The dry bag is a white bag laying in the woods 20 feet or so off the trail. “According to Chris, it (the bag) was in some bramble.”
Chris picked up the bag and took it to law enforcement on the search team, as they examined its contents.
“At that point, law enforcement showed him (Chris) a picture on the phone of a backpack that law enforcement had located also nearby,” Mr Bertolino explained.
“At that point the Laundrie’s were notified that there was also remains near the backpack … and they were asked to leave the preserve.”
Mr Bertolini said his clients were “heartbroken” after hearing that Brian’s remains had been discovered.
The official announcement came from FBI Tampa, as they said they will continue their investigation in the mysterious set of events.
#UPDATE: On October 21, 2021, a comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are those of Brian Laundrie. @FBITampa pic.twitter.com/ZnzbXiibTM
— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) October 21, 2021
“It’s quite sad … you can imagine as a parent finding out your son’s belongings alongside remains … that has got to be heartbreaking,” Mr Bertolini said. “I can tell you they are heartbroken.”
FBI officials said they will have personnel on site during the upcoming days to comb for further evidence, as an autopsy will be carried out to determine Brian’s cause of death.
Image credits: Instagram @gabspetito
This article first appeared on Over60.