North Port Police Department spokesman Josh Taylor said Monday night that in the early days of the case, as officers surveilled the Laundrie home, they thought they saw Brian Laundrie return in the family Mustang on Sept. 15.
It was actually his mother, Roberta Laundrie, in a baseball cap.
“We thought it was with him,” Taylor said. “But it was her wearing a baseball cap, and they have a very similar build.”
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According to Taylor, NPPD kept surveillance on the home with officers on the ground and other means of technology. Taylor said with all of the commotion going on outside the house, it was just a mistake.
Brian Laundrie left home in the family Mustang on Sept. 13 for a hike at the Carlton Reserve, and he never returned.
On Sept. 15, the Laundrie parents found the Mustang at the Myakkahatchee
Environmental Park but decided to leave it there in case their son returned, according to their lawyer Steven Bertolino.
That same day, North Port Police Police Chief Todd Garrison took to Twitter asking Bertolino to arrange a conversation with Brian Laundrie.
The next day, the parents went back to collect the car, and Roberta Laundrie drove the car home. That’s when law enforcement mistook her for her son.
The same day, the North Port Police Department held a news conference, and Garrison said he knew where Brian Laundrie was. Taylor now says Garrison made the comment based on surveillance of the Mustang returning home.
“We did not have any information that the family thought he was missing, that’s the truth,” Taylor said. “We never would have sent that tweet. We would have never made those comments publicly that we thought we knew where he was.”
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The Brian Laundrie timeline has continued to shift throughout the investigation and still leaves questions.
Even with the mishaps, Taylor believes the outcome would not have changed much.
Authorities found the skeletal remains of Brian Laundrie, the sole person of interest in the strangling of his fiance Gabby Petito, last week in the woods of Southern Sarasota County. He had been missing for five weeks.
“I don’t want to downplay the situation at all,” Taylor said. “But at the end of the day, I don’t know that it necessarily changes any of the outcomes here.”