Gabby Petito’s family attorney floated the notion that “additional individuals” could face charges in connection with her strangling in Wyoming more than two months ago.
It came shortly after authorities revealed the cause of death of Brian Laundrie her former fiancé and the only person of interest in her slaying. He shot himself in the head in a swampy nature preserve near his parents’ Florida home – roughly two weeks after driving cross-country to get there in Petito’s van.
“The Schmidt and Petito family has been aware of the circumstances surrounding the suicide of the sole suspect in Gabby’s murder,” attorney Richard Stafford said in a statement Tuesday, referring to Petito’s parents and stepparents. “Gabby’s family will not be making a statement at this time due to the request of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office.”
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Observers have long wondered whether federal or local authorities planned to bring any charges against the parents after their son came home alone from an interstate road trip with Petito and the family made no public comment about her whereabouts.
“The family was asked to not comment and let the FBI continue their investigation and allow the United States Attorney’s Office make a determination on whether any additional individuals will be charged,” Stafford said.
Steve Bertolino, the attorney for Laundrie and his parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, said he would not be making a comment on Stafford’s remarks.
A Florida license plate reader picked up Petito’s van near the Laundries’ home in North Port on Sept. 1. But she was already dead in Wyoming – discovered 18 days later near a campsite the couple shared north of Jackson in late August.
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On Aug. 12 in Utah, witnesses called police to report a domestic incident involving the couple, Fox News Digital was first to report. Moab police split them up for the night but filed no charges.
Days later, Laundrie flew home to Florida alone for a few days and left Petito in Salt Lake City. He flew back, and they continued their trip – briefly.
She was last seen alive in public in late August, leaving a restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming, just miles away from where authorities would find her remains on Sept. 19. The Teton County coroner ruled her death a homicide by strangulation.
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Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11. On Sept. 13, Laundrie left his parents’ home and went into the woods as North Port police failed to track his whereabouts.
When his parents surrendered all of the guns in their home to police four days later, one was missing, Fox News Digital was first to report.
For more than a month, a nationwide manhunt turned up no results. Then authorities found his remains near where his parents led them in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port. A month later, the results of a forensic anthropologist’s autopsy found that Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
His parents had insisted he was in the area for weeks, according to Bertolino, and experts have said that their cooperation in the search could help them avoid future charges. However charges could be possible.
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“Their son returned without his fiancée, and they didn’t report Gabby missing,” noted Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor. “If they helped Brian escape law enforcement by giving him a head start, they can be charged with being accessories after the fact to murder.”
They could also face charges if it can be proven that they lied to the FBI, he added.
“Their eventually leading agents to Brian’s remains makes charges less likely, but what the Laundrie parents told law enforcement, and when, is key to any prosecution decision,” Rahmani said.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by calling 800-273-8255.
For those who don’t want to speak to a counselor, there’s also a national Crisis Text Line available 24/7 by texting “home” to 741741.