Brian Laundrie’s parents: Who are Christopher and Roberta Laundrie?

Chris and Roberta Laundrie were able to pinpoint the location where their son’s personal belongings were found

Bevan Hurley
In New York
Tuesday 23 November 2021 19:07
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Brian Laundrie Search: Will the parents be charged?

Chris and Roberta Laundrie led authorities to personal items belonging to their son Brian in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on 20 October, marking the most significant update in the hunt for their fugitive son since he disappeared in mid-August.

Later the same day, human remains were found in the area later, and have been confirmed to be Brian Laundrie.

Prior to the discovery, the parents had remained steadfastly silent amid intense public scrutiny as their son Brian became the subject of a nationwide FBI manhunt.

They had initially refused to speak to police, but later sat down for interviews with the FBI and released carefully-worded statements through their lawyer Steve Bertolino.

They offered their condolences after the remains of Brian’s fiancée Gabby Petito were discovered in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming on 19 September, and said they did not know where their son was.

But Ms Petito’s parents consistently said they felt that the Laundrie family were withholding crucial information that could help them find Brian, and get the answers they were looking for about the death of their daughter.

The Laundries’ home has been besieged by protesters with loudhailers, by media, and makeshift memorials to Ms Petito have been set up outside their home.

Following the discovery of human remains that were later confirmed to be Brian, Mr Bertolino said the Laundries were being “tortured” in their own home.

Chris, 62, and Roberta, 55, live in a normally quiet suburban neighbourhood in North Port, population 75,000, about 50 miles north of Fort Myers.

Public records show Chris moved around Long Island, living in Woodhaven, Bayport, Bohemia, Maspeth, Forest Hills and Sayville.

As a teenager, Brian met Gabby Petito while attending Bayport-Blue Point High School.

A Laundrie neighbour confronts a protester on Wednesday evening

From 2011 to 2020, Roberta was listed as working for the Suffolk County Government in an office position.

Chris Laundrie also lived in Hanaha, South Carolina, before moving to North Port in 2017, like millions of so-called snowbirds seeking the warmer climate of Florida.

Upon settling in North Port, Chris and Roberta established Juicer Services, a company that sells and services commercial juicing equipment. He is the president while Roberta is the vice president of the company, which is based in North Port.

The business is listed as “temporarily closed”.

Chris is affiliated with the Florida Democratic Party.

Gabby Petito moved in with the Laundries sometime in 2020. She lived under the Laundrie family roof, and it was there that the couple converted a Ford Transit van to travel around the USA on their ill-fated van-life trip.

When North Port Police showed up at the family home on 11 September, the Laundries appear to have been ready for them.

They refused to speak with authorities, who seized the young couple’s van, and handed over contact information for their lawyer Steve Bertolino.

Since then, the only public statements to come from the Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been through their lawyer.

“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are indeed Brian’s. We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundrie’s privacy at this time,” Mr Bertolino said in late October.

According to Mr Bertolino, the family had always maintained Mr Laundrie was in the Carlton Reserve, andsaid they had no other ideas as to where else he could or would go.

Since 16 September, the Laundrie family home has been besieged by protesters who have staged daily demonstrations outside calling for Chris and Roberta to cooperate with the investigation into their son.

A camping trip taken by the Laundries in early September has also come under the microscope.

On 6 September, Brian and his parents travelled to the Fort De Soto Park and are believed to have spent two days at the campsite.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie visited the Fort De Soto historical Fort in February

The timing of this trip is significant, as it was around the time that Ms Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt was desperately trying to reach Brian and Roberta to find out why communication with her daughter had suddenly stopped.

After that revelation, it was also discovered that the Laundries had initially given police the wrong date while reporting their son’s disappearance. They said the man disappeared on 14 September, but he actually set out for the Carlton Reserve on 13 September.

Ms Petito’s father has been particularly scathing in his public comments about the Laundrie.

After Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman joined the search, he showed up at the North Port home, only for Roberta to call the police on him.

The Laundries have also been visited by the FBI, once during a thorough search of their home early in the investigation, and again more recently during which agents took a sample of some kind from the family’s trailer. The FBI loaded several vans with boxes of evidence collected at the family’s home.

During the search for Mr Laundrie, hundreds of concerned members of the public left flowers at a makeshift memorial at the home. Two visitors regularly brought megaphones to the house to scream challenges and insults at the family, and one particularly animated woman flew from Hershey, Pennsylvania, to scream at the home, which she said should be “burned to the ground”.

The protesters have caused such a disruption in the neighborhood that one of the family’s neighbors was arrested for the alleged battery of a demonstrator.

In early October, Chris Laundrie was asked to join the search for his son by accompanying members of the North Port Police and FBI into the Carlton Reserve. Nothing was found on the day he ventured into the swamp.

On October 20, Chris and Roberta Laundrie were called to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park when belongings, including clothes and a backpack belonging to Brian Laundrie were found. Human remains were later found in the area, and later confirmed to be Brian.

He was identified using dental records that were compared to teeth found in a skull that was found among the remains. The Sarasota County medical examiner said they could not conclusively determine a time of death or cause of death, and sent the remains to a forensic anthropologist for further analysis.

Mr Bertolino said the results of the anthropologist’s exam would likely reveal Laundrie’s time of death. When asked if it would reveal his cause of death, he said “we’ll see.”

Following the discovery of his body, Brian’s parents said they would not be holding a funeral and that instead the family would be meeting to grieve in private.

A total of 3,439 people have since signed a change.org petition, calling for a probe into North Port Police Department’s handling of the Brian Laundrie investigation.

“The North Port Police Department has been incompetent in their handling of both Gabby Petito’s missing persons case as well as the Brian Laundrie’s missing person case,” the petition reads.

“Millions of taxpayers money was spent on this investigation over a month’s time with little to no results. Within a day of the search area being opened back up to the public, the person of interest’s parents were the one’s to discover belongings of that of their son.”

On 23 November, the family’s attorney Steven Bertolino revealed Brian Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Mr Bertolino said Chris and Roberta hoped it would bring “closure” for the family of Gabby Petito.

“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide,” Mr Bertolino said in a statement.

“Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families.”

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