Why Wasn't Brian Laundrie Immediately Brought In For Questioning In The Gabby Petito Case? - Exclusive

Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, were "childhood sweethearts," according to the Associated Press, both originally from Blue Point, New York, and moved to Florida with Laundrie's parents in 2019. In 2021, the couple decided to take a road trip — from New York to Oregon — so they hopped in a white van and began what they hoped would be the journey of a lifetime. Petito and Laundrie documented their cross-country adventure of social media, and even started a YouTube channel called "Nomadic Statik." 

And so, Petito and Laundrie ventured to some of the coolest locations in the United States, living in a white 2012 Ford Transit van. Their days consisted of hiking and exploring, taking photos — and drone videos. Everything seemed to be going fine, as far as the public knows, until August 12. Police in Moab, Utah, stopped the white van for speeding near Arches National Park, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. In body cam footage later provided to the FBI — and made available to the public — Petito was seen crying. "We've just been fighting this morning. Some personal issues," she told the police. In the footage, Laundrie had scratches on his face, according to Radar Online. Keep reading to find out what happened next.

The FBI finds Gabby Petito's body in Wyoming & Brian Laundrie is missing

Despite the dispute, Brian Laundrie told police that he didn't want to press charges. "I'm not going to pursue anything because she is my fiancée and I love her. It was just a squabble. Sorry it had to get so public," he said, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The police respected Laundrie's decision, but insisted that he and Gabby Petito spend the night apart. Laundrie checked into a nearby motel while Petito spent the night in the van. The two appeared to carry on their trip in the days that followed, but had limited communication with their folks back home. On September 1, Laundrie arrived back in Florida, in the white van, without Petito. 

On September 11, Petito's family went to the police to report their daughter missing. Police in Florida were notified, and went to Laundrie's family home in North Port to question him. According to the Associated Press, Laundrie refused to cooperate with police. He was later named a "person of interest." Meanwhile, search teams assembled in Wyoming — near Grand Teton National Park — which is where she was last believed to be. Days later, Laundrie's family reported him missing, according to Fox News. On September 19, authorities discovered a body that was consistent with that of Petito's, according to NPR. "Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Charles Jones said.

Laundrie is still missing.

Why wasn't Brian Laundrie brought in to the police station for questioning?

One question that many people have in the Gabby Petito case is why wasn't Brian Laundrie brought in for questioning. The simple answer is that Laundrie refused to talk to police. Nicki Swift decided to chat with an expert in the police field for some clarity. Philip Dube, a deputy public defender with LA County, explained to us that "in the United States of America, no one is ever obligated to speak to police...Any person of interest or suspect who is under suspicion for having committed a crime has a 5th and 14th Amendment right under the United States Constitution to refuse to talk to police." 

Dube went on to explain that Laundrie's decision to consult with an attorney was his right. "The United States provides for the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination that shields people from being forced to speak to law enforcement officials without their consent," Dube tells Nicki Swift. "Typically, the police want to interrogate a person of interest so they can gather enough incriminating admissions to be used as evidence and probable cause to believe that the person committed a crime and then make an arrest and formally charge the person in court. Absent such proof, the police cannot even present enough evidence to a judge to obtain an arrest warrant," he added.

Brian Laundrie could still refuse to talk to police, even if he's named a suspect in the case

As the investigation into Gabby Petito's death continues, many are awaiting the results from the coroner's office, which should determine whether Petito died of natural causes, or if foul play was suspected. Deputy public defender with LA County, Philip Dube, tells Nicki Swift that there is quite a bit riding on what the coroner discovers. "If the coroner in the region where her remains were discovered determines that Gabby's death was an accident or resulted from natural causes, then the inquest should be closed out as noncriminal and thus, non-homicidal and hopefully give her family and the public some consolation," he explained. 

However, if Petito's death is found to be a homicide, the case will change. At this point, "the police can beef up their investigation in search of her killer," Dube tells Nicki Swift. He adds that Laundrie can still opt to "invoke his right to remain silent," which will cause police to "have to use other means to prove their suspicions." 

According to CBS News, the police are still searching for Laundrie, who is still considered a missing person as of this writing.