Brian Laundrie's parents may have struck deal with FBI to avoid jail: Ex-FBI agent

Former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan proposed that authorities may have given the Laundries an ultimatum to either help them find their son or face prison

                            Brian Laundrie's parents may have struck deal with FBI to avoid jail: Ex-FBI agent
Chris and Roberta Laundrie are yet to publicly speak about their deceased son Brian Laundrie (Twitter, Instagram/@gabspetito)

A former FBI agent has claimed Brian Laundrie's parents may have struck a deal with the federal agency in order to avoid jail time. Christopher, 62, and Roberta Laundrie, 55, raised eyebrows on Wednesday, October 20, as they joined the manhunt for their missing son and within hours the authorities had located his remains and belongings in a Florida swampland.

The breakthrough came five weeks into the manhunt after receding water levels gave more access to some of the 23-year-old fugitive's favorite trails in the Carlton Nature Reserve. However, former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan proposed that authorities may have given the Laundries an ultimatum to either help them find their son or face prison.


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"There's no doubt that Brian Laundrie's parents are fully engaged with law enforcement," Kaplan told the Daily Mail. "I do believe that there was some sort of agreement where they accepted immunity in exchange for their full cooperation."

Investigators had majorly focused their search for Laundrie on the sprawling Carlton Reserve despite several unconfirmed sightings across the country since the avid hiker was reported missing on September 17. Two days later, his fiancee Gabby Petito's remains were found at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Ground in Grand Teton National Park. The 22-year-old vlogger's demise was ruled a homicide by strangulation and her fiance remained the sole person of interest in the case.


"I think from the very beginning that Brian Laundrie's parents were torn between wanting to protect their son and not wanting to cross a line that would put them in the crosshairs of law enforcement," Kaplan, who is now a criminal defense lawyer, added. "If you lie to a federal agent, mislead them, or give them false information that can lead to prosecution for obstruction of justice and you could be looking at five years in jail. And it's an easy trap to fall into."

Laundrie's parents initially told North Port, Florida police that they last saw their son on September 14, when he left to go hiking at the Carlton Reserve, leaving behind his Ford Mustang nearby and never returning to it. Chris and Roberta said they drove the abandoned vehicle back home. However, the couple raised suspicion when they abruptly "revised" their version of events, telling their attorney Steve Bertolino they last saw him on the evening of September 13.

Chris and Roberta are yet to publicly speak about Brian and Gabby, who were engaged last year before heading off in July for a cross-country road trip in a converted camper van. Speaking to the Daily Mail, retired FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer explained that Laundrie's parents could face aiding and abetting charges if they knew about his whereabouts, but noted that authorities would need solid evidence to prove their involvement. "That evidence could include text messages telling him to run or telling him they were going to destroy evidence," Coffindaffer told the newspaper. "There's no blood involved in a strangulation but there could be some cells on his clothing. I think the strongest possibility would be an obstruction charge on the cleaning of the Petito van."


However, without such evidence, it would be difficult to force the Laundries to reveal what their son told them in the 12 days he spent with them after returning to their North Port home by himself in the camper van on September 1 and before disappearing under the noses of law enforcement. "They can't be compelled. But you would hope, especially since now that it appears their son is dead, that if they are decent people they will disclose what they know," Coffindaffer added. "The guilt builds and I would not be surprised at all if one of them came forward, eventually, although it could take a long time."

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