Brian Laundrie’s parents have now said they ‘believe’ he went on the run one day earlier than they first claimed, meaning their fugitive son had a four-day headstart before they finally reported him missing to authorities.
The family’s lawyer Steve Bertolino admitted to WFLA Tuesday that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie may have gotten muddled over the date when they last saw their son at a time when police were making repeated efforts to speak with him.
Laundrie’s parents told authorities on September 17 that they hadn’t seen him for the last three days, claiming they last saw him carrying a backpack and heading to the Carlton Nature Reserve near their home in North Port for a hike on September 14.
During this three-day period, the Laundries kept mum about their son’s disappearance.
The family had lawyered up and refused to allow investigators to speak to him ever since the cops came knocking on September 11 – the day his fiancee Gabby Petito was reported missing.
Now, the fugitive’s parents have claimed Laundrie actually set off from their home on September 13.
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito are pictured together.
Chris and Roberta Laundrie, pictured, cowards for avoiding his family
Bertolino brushed off the inconsistency putting it down to ‘recollection of certain events.’
‘The Laundries were basing the date Brian left on their recollection of certain events,’ he said.
‘Upon further communication with the FBI and confirmation of the Mustang being at the Laundrie residence on Wednesday September 15, we now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday September 13.’
It is not clear why the Laundries did not alert authorities to their son’s disappearance for four days.
Nor is it clear if authorities ever received proof of Laundrie being in the family home on September 11 or entering the Carlton Reserve – where they have focused much of the more than $1 million search based on the information from Laundrie’s parents.
Petito’s dad Joe Petito hit out at the Laundrie parents in a new Dr. Phil interview, which aired Tuesday, calling them ‘cowards’ who ‘don’t know how to stand up for their actions’.
Joe and Petito’s mom Nicole Schmidt said they had tried calling and texting the Laundries multiple times when they grew concerned about not hearing from their daughter in early September – but they never replied.
Laundrie’s headstart on authorities has so far proved to be problematic for investigators who are yet to locate the 23-year-old after a more than two week manhunt.
The admission from the family’s lawyer significantly changing the timeline for Laundrie’s disappearance was revealed the same day the attorney also admitted Laundrie took a round trip to Florida in the days leading up to Petito’s disappearance.
Bertolino has claimed the fugitive flew home to Florida ‘to empty a storage unit’ five days after he and Gabby Petito got into a physical fight in Utah – before then rejoining his fiancee just two days before she made her final phone call to her family.
Attorney Steve Bertolino told Newsday Tuesday that Laundrie, 23, took a commercial flight from Salt Lake City, Utah to Tampa, Florida, on August 17.
Five days later, on August 23, Laundrie then took a return flight ‘to rejoin Gabby’ for the remainder of their trip.
Bertolino said the purpose of the fleeting visit was to pick up some items and close the storage unit because the young couple were thinking of ‘extending the road trip’ which was due to end in Oregon in October.
But the trip was in fact cut short, with Laundrie driving the couple’s white campervan back to his family’s home in North Port, Florida, on September 1 while Petito’s body was discovered in a park in Wyoming over two weeks later on September 19.
Gabby Petito’s family from L-R: step-mother Tara Petito, father Joe Petito, step-father James Schmidt, mother Nicole Schmidt on Dr Phil. Petito’s dad called the Laundrie parents ‘cowards’
Laundrie remains at large with a nationwide manhunt under way for the only person of interest in his fiancee’s homicide.
The additional details of the couple’s whereabouts – and the fact they separated for five days – raises more questions about what happened on the doomed cross-country trip.
Bertolino said he believed the couple shared the costs for Laundrie to make the detour.
‘To my knowledge, Brian and Gabby paid for the flights as they were sharing expenses,’ the attorney said.
‘Brian flew home to obtain some items and empty and close the storage unit to save money as they contemplated extending the road trip.’
This revelation reiterates what Petito’s mom Nicole Schmidt told DailyMail.com exclusively earlier on in the search.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the FBI Denver Office – which is leading the manhunt for Laundrie – to confirm the timeline detailed by Bertolino.
Laundrie’s alleged flight back to Florida came just days after the couple were separated by police in Moab, Utah, following a domestic incident.
Bodycam footage from the August 12 encounter reveals a distraught Petito telling cops her fiance had hit her and cut her face by grabbing her ‘with his nail’ during a fight when he locked her out of their van.
‘He like grabbed me with his nail, and I guess that’s why it looks, I definitely have a cut right here. I can feel it, when I touch it it burns,’ she tells the officer.
The 22-year-old is then seen defending Laundrie saying she ‘hit him first’, after an officer points out marks on her arms and face.
Police pulled over the couple’s van in Moab, Utah, on August 12 following reports of a man hitting a woman
The new bodycam shows Petito telling the cop Laundrie hit her. According to attorney Steve Bertolino, Laundrie took a commercial flight from Salt Lake City, Utah to Tampa, Florida, five days later on August 17
Police had responded to a 911 call from a bystander who said he had seen a man slapping a woman outside the nearby Mayflower grocery store before driving off in a white van.
Cops determined Petito was the ‘primary aggressor’ and separated the couple for the night – meaning they are likely to have reunited on August 13.
Body camera video from one Moab officer was released two weeks ago, while Petito was still a missing person and the audio was unclear at times.
Footage from the second officer’s body-worn camera was released last week, revealing Petito did admit to her fiancee hitting her.
According to the account given by Laundrie’s attorney, it was five days after this police callout that Laundrie left his fiancee in Utah and flew to Florida.
It is not clear if Laundrie stayed at his parents’ home in North Port or who he saw during that five-day period.
It is also not clear what Petito did during this timeframe as she stayed back in Utah with the couple’s campervan.
In police bodycam footage on August 12, Petito tells the officer she does not usually drive the vehicle.
On August 19, Petito posted two photos on Instagram – an aerial view of the couple’s campervan and a photo showing what appears to be the back of Laundrie’s head sitting in front of her in the back of the van.
Laundrie is seen in bodycam from the August 12 incident where cops separated the couple for the night
‘Almost immediately after telling @bizarre_design_ how happy it made me to see that people were truly respectful of the park, I watched some guy leave his processed pre-packaged plastic conglomerate of lunch garbage on the picnic table!’ she captioned the post.
It is not clear when those photos were taken.
The timing of Laundrie’s return on August 23 could also be significant as it comes just two days before Petito made her final phone call to her mom on August 25, where she told her she was in Grand Teton National Park.
She is thought to have last been seen alive on August 27 at the Merry Piglets Tex-mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming, where the manager said she witnessed an ‘incident’ involving the couple.
‘Yes, we can confirm Gabby and Brian were in Merry Piglets … We have already notified the FBI and they are aware. We are letting them do their jobs and we are respecting Gabby’s family and have nothing further to comment,’ the restaurant said in an Instagram post last month.
It is not clear what Laundrie and Petito did within the five-day period they were said to have separated. Petito posted this photo on Instagram appearing to show the back of Laundrie’s head on August 19 – when he was reportedly in Florida
Two witnesses in the restaurant – Nina Angelo and her boyfriend Matt England – described seeing a ‘commotion’ between the couple.
Angelo previously told CNN Petito was crying and Laundrie was visibly angry, going in and out of the restaurant several times and appearing angry with the staff.
The coroner has not released details on when Petito died.
A preliminary autopsy ruled her death a homicide but cause of death is still unknown.
On September 1, just nine days after Laundrie is said to have returned from Florida to Utah, he arrived back at his family’s home in North Port without his fiancee but driving their van.
Petito was reported missing on September 11 by her mom after not hearing from her daughter for multiple days and coming up against a wall of silence from Laundrie and his parents.
Laundrie lawyered up and refused to speak to cops about his fiancee’s whereabouts before going on the run.
His parents reported him as missing on September 17, telling authorities they had not seen him since September 14 when he went on a hike in the alligator-infested Carlton Reserve in North Port.
Local police and the FBI have now been searching for Laundrie for almost three weeks.
Meanwhile, questions are mounting about what his family knew about what happened on the trip.
Timeline of missing Gabby Petito’s case
- July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip
- August 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple
- Aug. 17: Laundrie allegedly flies back to Florida to ‘clear out a storage unit’
- Aug. 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah
- Aug. 23: Laundrie flies back to Utah to ‘rejoin Gabby’ on their trip
- Aug. 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie
- Aug. 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park
- Aug. 25 or 26: The couple chats with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes
- Aug. 27: Video of Petito’s van was taken by blogger Jenn Bethune, of Red White & Bethune, around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground; Witnesses say they saw a ‘commotion’ with the couple at Merry Piglets Tex-mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming
- Aug. 29: The day that Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker claimed that she and her boyfriend were approached by Laundrie at Grand Teton National Park and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm; Schmidt says she is not entertaining this claim and believes it possibly factual
- Aug. 30: Schmidt receives the last text from Petito: ‘No service in Yosemite’
- Sept. 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito
- Sept. 6-7: Laundrie and his parents visit Fort De Soto campsite in Florida
- Sept. 11: Schmidt reports Petito missing to authorities in New York; Petito and Laundrie’s van was impounded by police in Florida that same day
- Sept. 12: Grand Teton National Park rangers search for Petito
- Sept. 13: Laundrie’s lawyer says on October 5 that his parents now ‘believe’ this was the day they last saw him heading for a hike
- Sept. 14: Laundrie issues a statement about Petito’s disappearance through his lawyer; Laundrie’s parents claim on September 17 that Laundrie left his parents’ home for a hike and they hadn’t seen from him since
- Sept. 15: Laundrie is officially named a person of interest in Petito’s case
- Sept. 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown
- Sept. 18: North Port police and the FBI start searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County for missing Brian Laundrie
- Sept. 19: Bethune realizes she has video of Petito’s van around 12am and submits the FBI with the footage 10 minutes later; Officials announce a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Petito’s description in the afternoon
- Sept. 21: Coroner confirms remains found in Grand Tetons belong to Petito. Her death is ruled a homicide but her cause of death is still under invesetigation
- Sept. 20 – 22: FBI and North Port police continue search for Laundrie in Carton Reserve
- Sept. 22: Neighbors say they saw the Laudrie family pack up their detached camper on the day Gabby was reported missing. DailyMail.com photos show the camper was back in the driveway two days later, on September 13
- Sept. 23: FBI issues an arrest warrant for Laundrie for ‘use of unauthorized access device’ for fraudulently using a Capitol One Bank debit card that was not his between August 30 and September 1 to spend $1,000; A probe is launched into the police handling of the Utah police incident on Aug. 12; Laundrie’s parents visit their attorney in Orlando
- Sept. 25: Dog the Bounty Hunter joins the search for Laundrie
- Sept. 26: A funeral is held for Petito in Holbrook, New York, and her family launch a charity to help parents find missing children
- Sept. 27: Manhunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve is scaled back after 10 day search doesn’t find him. Dog the Bounty Hunter says Laundrie and his parents stayed at Fort De Soto Park from September 1-3 and September 6-8 – and that on the latter visit only the parents left
- Sept. 28: Laundrie’s mom is accused of using a burner phone to contact her son Sept. 29: Documents reveal Laundrie’s mom canceled a reservation for the Fort De Soto Park campsite for two from September 1 to 3 and booked for three from September 6 to 8; FBI seizes surveillance footage from site; FBI investigates lead Laundrie bought a burner phone on September 14; Dog the Bounty Hunter searches the area near Fort De Soto finding a recently drunk can of Monster Energy at a makeshift campsite deep in the woods
- Sept. 30: Bodycam footage from a second officer at the August 12 incident is released showing a distressed Petito admitting Laundrie hit her; FBI agents collect more evidence from the Laundrie home
- Oct. 1: It emerges Laundrie’s sister had contact with him after she said she did
- Oct. 2: A hiker along the Appalachian Trail claims to have seen Laundrie near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina
- Oct. 3: Investigators searched the area on the Appalachian trail for any signs that Laundrie had been there
- Oct. 4: Laundrie’s sister told protestors outside her home that her family has been ignoring her after they rebuked her story and that she does not know where her brother is
- Oct 5: Laundrie’s sister appeared on Good Morning America to say she would turn her brother in if she knew where he is; The Laundrie attorney says his parents now ‘believe’ he went on the run one day earlier than they first claimed (September 13 not 14) meaning he had a four-day headstart before they reported him missing to authorities; The attorney also says Laundrie flew from Utah to Florida on Aug. 17 without Petito to clear out a storage unit then returned on Aug. 23