How Police Lost Track Of Brian Laundrie By Confusing Him For His Mother — Because She Was Wearing A Hat

This could have changed everything.

Brian Laundrie and Chris and Roberta Laundrie

Brian Laundrie disappeared from his family’s home on September 13th when he told his parents he would be going for a hike in the Carlton Reserve/Myakkahatchee Creek area.

Ever since Gabby Petito had been reported missing by her family, the North Port Police Department placed the Laundries under supervision due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding her disappearance.

While under surveillance, police mistook Roberta Laundrie for Brian.

In an interview with WINK news, the North Port police admitted that they had made some mistakes in their investigation of the Laundrie family — including mistaking the mother for the son.


RELATED: Brian Laundrie’s Lawyer Says Parents Knew Their Son Was ‘Grieving’ A Week Before Gabby Petito Was Confirmed Dead

They had set up cameras around the Laundrie residence in order to keep a close eye on them, but this, they admit, was also unsuccessful.

The officers who were working at the time and were responsible for watching them reported that they saw Brian leaving in his Mustang — presumably for the park on the 13th.

Two days later, they saw the same Mustang return from the park and enter their driveway.

When Roberta stepped out of the vehicle, North Port police believed it was Brian and thought nothing else of it.

“They’re kind of built similarly,” said Josh Taylor, NPPD public information officer. “I believe it was his mom who was wearing a baseball cap.”


NPPD was even more confused when Roberta and Chris reported their son missing because they believed they knew where he was the whole time.

RELATED: Weighted Down Gun Found In Florida Park Where Brian Laundrie's Family Went Camping After Gabby Petito’s Death


“When the family reported him [missing] on Friday. That was certainly news to us that they had not seen him,” Taylor said. “We thought that we seen Brian initially come back into that home on that Wednesday. But we now know that that wasn’t true.”

Just the day before, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison made the statement, “All I’m going to say is we know where Brian Laundrie is at,” confident that he was still at home.

Had they known that it was Roberta and not Brian, the entire case could have played out differently.

Taylor admitted that the mistake cost taxpayers a lot of money and cost law enforcement a lot of time and manpower — “No case is perfect,” he said.


But Taylor also commented that the entire situation had been very odd and suspicious and could have led to the confusion.

RELATED: K-9 Handler Says It’s ‘Highly Suspicious’ That Cadaver Dogs Didn’t Already Detect Remains In Search For Brian Laundrie

“They had returned from the park with that Mustang. So who does that? Right?” he said. “Like, if you think your son’s missing since Tuesday, you’re going to bring his car back to the home. So it didn’t make sense that anyone would do that if he wasn’t there. So the individual getting out with a baseball cap we thought was Brian.”

Not only that, but they returned his car and then reported him missing several days later. Had they reported him missing sooner, it also could have changed everything.


According to Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family lawyer, Chris and Roberta are grieving their son’s death in an undisclosed location.

Brian’s cause and manner of death are still unknown as the DNA tests came back inconclusive and his remains needed to be sent to a forensic anthropologist.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie’s Lawyer Says Parents Knew Their Son Was ‘Grieving’ A Week Before Gabby Petito Was Confirmed Dead

Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.