Anyone who is following the death of 22-year-old Gabby Petito has a lot of questions. What happened to her? Where is her fiance, Brian Laundrie? Why wasn’t more done to help her? And of course, shouldn’t Laundrie’s parents be in trouble?
Looking at the case from the news, it can be easy to assume that Laundrie’s parents have done something wrong by not talking to the police about both Petito’s and their son’s disappearance.
But, it’s more complicated than that.
The Gabby Petito Timeline
To understand what legal trouble Laundrie’s parents may or may not be in, let’s look at the timeline of events leading up to Petito’s death as documented by CNN.
June 2021: Landrie and Petito, who lived with Laundrie and his parents in North Port, Florida, head out in a white Ford van to travel across the country. Petito keeps in close contact with her parents during the trip and regularly posts about the trip on social media.
August 12: Laundrie and Petito have an encounter with police in Moab, Utah.
August 24: Petito Facetimes with her mom. This is the last time Peitito’s mother says she saw and talked to her daughter.
August 25-27: Petito shares texts with her mom that her mother says seem odd. Petito stops sharing content on social media.
August 30: Petito’s mother gets a final text from her daughter’s number that says, “No service in Yosemite.” The family doesn’t believe Petito sent the text.
September 1: Laundrie shows up at his parent’s house in North Port, Florida with the van but no Petito.
September 6-8: Records show that Laundrie’s mother checked into Fort De Soto campground in Tierra Verde, Florida, on September 6th. Lawyers say Laundrie, his mother, and his father arrived together and then left together on September 8th.
This later led to Dog the Bounty Hunter conducting a search at the campground, which didn’t appear to turn up any evidence.
September 11: Petito’s family in New York officially report her missing. Investigators go to the Laundrie’s home. Police are turned away and told to talk to the family’s lawyer.
September 14: On this day, Laundrie’s parents say Laundrie told them he was going camping in the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre nature preserve.
September 17: Laundrie’s parents request police to come to their home because they can’t find their son. They said he did not take his cell phone so they have had no communication with him.
September 19: Gabby Petito is found dead in Grand Teton National Park. Her death is ruled a homicide.
September 20: Laundrie’s parents are questioned by the FBI then escorted from their home as federal agents execute a search warrant. The warrant says there was “probable cause for issuance” as a result of the item potentially containing evidence that a felony had been committed.
September 22: A federal arrest warrant is issued for Laundrie.
This is the moment when things changed for Laundrie’s parents.
What Changes with the Arrest Warrant?
It’s worth noting that Laundrie’s warrant isn’t for the murder of Petito. It is for credit card fraud.
A Wyoming grand jury indicted Laundrie on charges of unauthorized use of a credit card for purchases over $1,000. He is said to have used the card between August 30th and September 1st. The documents released by the FBI do not say who the card belonged to, but it is believed to belong to Petito according to Insider.
The warrant helps police access resources to find Laundrie even though he hasn’t been officially charged in Petito’s case — and it changes things for his parents.
Now that there is an arrest warrant for Laundrie, anyone in contact with Laundrie or anyone who attempts to help him could face the federal charge of aiding and abetting a fugitive.
His parents weren’t breaking the law by being in contact with Laundrie before the warrant was issued on September 22. They were within their legal rights to refuse to talk to police, and they did nothing wrong by traveling with their son.
But now that the warrant has been issued, they can no longer legally communicate with him.
So, What Could Happen to Laundrie’s Parents?
Right now, there are no legal issues facing Laundrie’s parents.
The fifth amendment, which protects an individual’s right to avoid self-incrimination, protects their right to remain silent. But, there are a few scenarios that could lead them to legal trouble.
If Laundie were to contact his parents now, his parents could be charged with aiding and abetting a fugitive if they didn’t notify the FBI.
If Laundrie is caught and charged with murder, his parents could be in trouble:
- If there is sufficient evidence to prove that they previously provided misleading information to the FBI.
- If they helped him get away by providing money or means, as that is a case of obstruction of justice.
But by staying silent this far, Laundrie’s parents haven’t committed a crime.
Know Your Rights
The law can be complicated. Whether or not Laundrie’s parents did the morally right thing by staying silent is debatable. But what is not debatable is getting due process of the law. Having an attorney to advise you on legal matters will always be the best way to ensure that your rights aren’t being violated.
If you have questions about a pending legal matter, talk to a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your unique case and the potential consequences of your actions. Talk to TJ Grimaldi today. Request your free consultation or call 813-226-1023.