Brian Laundrie’s vanishing act has brought his parents into the limelight for their possible involvement in their son’s disappearance following the death of his fiancée Gabby Petito.
There is speculation that the parents, Christopher Laundrie, 62, and Roberta Laundrie, 55, played a role in aiding their son to flee after he refused to cooperate with authorities in Florida and disappeared last week.
The parents claimed they retrieved their son’s Mustang from the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve nature preserve on September 14 which has prompted questions as to why they would strand their son in the densely forested and swampy area without his car and means to return home.
They eventually filed a missing persons report several days later on September 17, but only after the police arrived at their doorstep.
Although attention has turned to his parents, they may never be charged with a crime due to a Florida law that largely shields relatives from being named accessories from an otherwise felony offense of assisting someone with evading arrest, trial, or other punishment after committing a crime.
“There are a lot of people who think that parents’ obligation to children comes first,” Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law professor told Fox News when describing similar statutes across the country.
“For example, a woman or a man have a right not to testify against their spouse,” Dershowitz said. “Now generally, that doesn’t apply to mother and child or father and child, but there are some people who think it should.”
Authorities have combed the area in Sarasota County for any trace of Brian Laundrie who now faces a federal arrest warrant due to alleged bank card fraud, but have thus far come up empty-handed.
“While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide.” read a statement from FBI Denver. “We urge individuals with knowledge of Mr. Laundrie’s role in this matter or his current whereabouts to contact the FBI.”
On September 22, 2021, the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Brian Christopher Laundrie pursuant to a Federal Grand Jury indictment related to Mr. Laundrie’s activities following the death of Gabrielle Petito. pic.twitter.com/SSrBVbAeBs
— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) September 23, 2021
The parents’ immunity does have some limits according to attorney Cory Baird.
“Parents could be charged, assuming there is evidence to support the charge if their son is charged with a first or second-degree felony,” Baird said in an interview with WESH-TV. “If he is charged with a third-degree felony, they could not charge his parents.”
Laundrie’s parents, who apparently met with an attorney in Orlando on Thursday, may also be held liable for any false statements made to authorities.
“If they made misleading statements or lied to officers, obviously that’s a crime in Florida, and they’re not protected from that,” Baird explained.
Despite the parents’ actions leading some to wonder if they know more than they are admitting about their son’s whereabouts, the presumption of innocence does still apply.
“We just don’t know what the parents did or didn’t do, what they knew, what they didn’t know,” Dershowitz said. “We have to presume innocence.”
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