When Gabby Petito’s parents reported her missing on Sept. 11, police in North Port, Florida, started watching Brian Laundrie. They had his parents' house under surveillance, and North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison put it like this on Sept. 16, per NBC News: "All I’m going to say is we know where Brian Laundrie is at." But they didn’t—a fact they realized when the Laundries reported Brian missing the next day. Police admitted to WINK Monday that they made a mistake. "That was certainly news to us that they had not seen him," Josh Taylor, a spokesperson for the North Port police, said.
Police watching the cameras near the Laundrie house saw Laundrie leave in a gray Mustang on Sept. 13. Then they saw the car return on Sept. 15, and thought Laundrie was driving—but his mom had brought the car home. "They’re kind of built similarly," Taylor said. Before reporting her son missing, Roberta Laundrie drove the car home from the Carlton Reserve, where Laundrie's remains were found. Police say she was wearing a baseball cap which made her look enough like her son that they thought he was the driver.
Police say they don’t think knowing he was missing a little later altered the outcome of the search. "Other than confusion, it likely changed nothing," Taylor told FOX 13. Steven Bertolino, the family’s lawyer, told FOX 13 that Laundrie may have already been dead by the time the police realized he was missing. "You can't blame the family because the police didn’t know enough to follow someone they were obviously surveilling," Bertolino said. (Read more Brian Laundrie stories.)