Brian Laundrie's lawyer cancels press conference: 'Not in my client's best interest'
Laundrie, who has not cooperated with the police, is now considered a person of interest in the case and hasn’t been seen himself since September 14
The attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie canceled the press conference scheduled for Tuesday, September 21 related to the disappearance of Gabby Petito, 22. The cancellation came after a conversation the attorney had with the FBI on Monday, September 20.
Steven Bertolino, the attorney for the Laundrie family, was scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. ET in Long Island, New York. "As per my conversation with the FBI this evening there will be no press conference tomorrow," Bertolino said. But Bertolino said it was “not true” that the FBI had advised him to cancel. “Just not in my clients’ best interest,” he wrote in a text message. FBI agents swarmed the family’s home on Monday, September 20, morning in North Port, Florida, spending hours at the residence while Laundrie’s parents were provisionally placed in an unmarked van. Laundrie, who has not cooperated with the police, is now considered a person of interest in the case and hasn’t been seen himself since September 14, according to investigators.
The search warrant came after officials in Wyoming discovered a body believed to be that of Petito, who went missing on a cross-country trip with Laundrie. Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts who met while growing up on New York's Long Island. His parents later moved to North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota, and the couple had been living with his parents before starting the trek. But on the trip, Petito lost contact with her family in late August when the couple said they were visiting Grand Teton, National Park. Their social media posts documenting the trip also abruptly stopped, and Laundrie returned to their Florida home in the van alone on September 1, authorities said.
Petito was later reported missing on September 11 by her family in New York. That same day, the van was seized by the North Port Police Department in Florida at their shared home, authorities said. Petito's family had been pleading with Laundrie’s parents to tell police where their son last saw her, but the Laundrie family declined to speak with investigators and instead provided them with information for their attorney. A statement shared on September 14 by Bertolino said the family would remain "in the background at this juncture" and provide no further comment.
But on Friday, September 17, North Port police spoke with Laundrie’s parents "at their request," who told investigators that their son had been missing since September 14. The discovery prompted a multi-day search of a vast wildlife reserve in Sarasota County but was called off on Monday. In Wyoming, an autopsy of the body was planned for Tuesday. The FBI said agents had discovered the body while searching campsites on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, which the couple had visited, but release no details on the cause of death. "Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified," FBI agent Charles Jones said Sunday. "This is an incredibly difficult time for (Petito’s) family and friends."