What Does The Discovery Of Brian Laundrie's Remains Mean For The Gabby Petito Case? - Exclusive

The Denver FBI announced on October 21 that Brian Laundrie's remains were identified. The FBI's official statement noted the remains were found at the T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida and that "a comparison of dental records" were used to confirm Laundrie's identity. The news came nine days after Wyoming's Teton County Coroner's Office confirmed his girlfriend at the time, Gabby Petito, was killed by strangulation. Her remains were located in Grand Teton National Park on September 19.

Following the identification, the lawyer representing Laundrie's parents, Chris and Roberta, made a statement. "We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundries' privacy at this time," the legal representative said, according to The Washington Post. As for the Petito family, their attorney said that they had no statement at this time, according to ABC7's WWSB.

Of course, with the news about Laundrie, many want to know what this means for the Gabby Petito case. Los Angeles County Public Defender Philip Dubé talked to Nicki Swift exclusively, providing some clarity about what's next in the investigation into Petito's murder.

Brian Laundrie's death could change the investigation's course

Los Angeles County Public Defender Philip Dubé exclusively theorized to Nicki Swift what happens next now that Brian Laundrie has officially been found deceased. "If, theoretically, the police have strong evidence Brian Laundrie is Gabby's killer, then there will be no criminal prosecution because prosecutors cannot pursue people posthumously," Dubé said. "A deceased person can be named a killer based on competent evidence but that person can never be legally adjudicated the killer." He added, "However, additional evidence may lead to other persons of interest in her death."

Dubé also had thoughts about the investigation leading up to this point, explaining the likely reasoning behind Laundrie's lack of cooperation in the initial investigation. "Brian Laundrie was not immediately questioned in the Gabby Petito disappearance because his family hired a criminal defense attorney who advised him of his right to remain silent," he shared. "Undoubtedly, his counsel expressed the legal dangers associated with being interviewed by law enforcement and the irreversible pitfalls of making any misstatements."

In response to the public frustration, Dubé concluded, "Our Constitution provides protective safeguards to anyone in the United States with whom the police want to talk. No matter what familial or public pressure may be expressed, the right not to talk attaches to anyone who is on the police radar." 

Brian Laundrie's death sparks strong reactions

After the FBI announcement that Brian Laundrie's remains were found, there was an outpouring of sympathy for the family of Gabby Petito, the murder victim. One Twitter user replied, "I hope that you are still able to find some closure and Justice for Gabby and her family.#JusticeForGabby." Another tweeted, "Prayers for Gabby's family. I wish they could've had more closure to this sad situation." 

Many are angry at Laundrie's parents, too. "Please remember that #justiceforgabby also means holding his parents accountable for what they knew or didn't know or how they held up this case, even if the coward is dead," one person penned. Someone else argued, "No parent should lose a child. But I don't feel for them at all for several reasons. They could have stopped this. They could have shown even the slightest bit of empathy to Gabbys family. You know who I feel bad for? Brian's sister. And her kids."

Of course, it's important to note authorities haven't named Laundrie as Petito's killer as of this writing, and that his parents haven't been charged with any crimes. 

How Gabby Petito's memory will live on

In the aftermath of their unspeakable tragedy, Gabby Petito's loved ones are trying to help other families. On September 28, BuzzFeed reported that Petito's parents and stepparents held a press conference to thank the people who tried to help them find their daughter, as well as announce the launch of The Gabby Petito Foundation. Petito's stepfather, Jim Schmidt said, "We're just hoping that through our tragedy of losing Gabby that in the future that some good can come out of it, that we can help other people that may be in [a] similar situation."

According to the foundation's website, their mission is to "address the needs of organizations that support locating missing persons" and provide aid to "organizations that assist victims of domestic violence situations, through education, awareness, and prevention strategies." The organization's mission statement continues, "We wish to turn our personal tragedy into a positive. It is our hope that Gabby's foundation will bring these important issues into the forefront of the public eye to the benefit of all our communities."

As Gabby's dad, Joseph Petito said on September 19 when her body was located, "she touched the world."