News continues to break daily about Gabby Petito’s case and the mysterious disappearance of Brian Laundrie. Last we heard, Gabby's body was found and her fiancé, Brian, is on the run. It’s a heartbreaking case that seems to center around young love gone awry, and America is unsurprisingly captivated by it.
Now, as new developments unfold regarding Brian’s parents, Christopher and Roberta Laundrie, many are wondering what their role is in Gabby's homicide. So, Distractify spoke with criminal defense attorney and managing partner of the West Palm Beach office of Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A., Michelle Suskauer, to learn whether Brian’s parents could be charged with a crime.
If Brian Laundrie is found deceased, he wouldn’t be charged with anything, but his parents could be.
Like any parents, Brian's are worried that he’s not on the run but in fact, deceased. A source close to the family told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that Laundrie left without his cell phone and wallet, and that they were “concerned that he might hurt himself.” If that’s the case, investigators “can't try somebody who's deceased,” according to Michelle Suskauer.
She explained, “If they conclude that he's responsible, then it's over and the case is done. If they do not conclude and they still are going to continue to pursue leads, then they're going to continue to pursue leads until they find somebody that they believe they have probable cause to arrest.”
However, the likelihood of this happening is rare; Michelle confirmed that “[Brian] seems like the only person of interest at this point.”
Brian's parents could be charged for any number of crimes regarding Gabby's homicide if there is probable cause.
There’s definite cause for a criminal charge under certain circumstances, Michelle explained to Distractify exclusively. When asked if Brian's parents could be charged or have any sort of criminal liability, she affirmed that, “If [Brian's parents] participated in any way in hiding him, in destruction of evidence, and as accessory after the fact, [then] yes.”
As of now, the FBI has actually declared the Laundrie home a crime scene, and even announced when they’d be executing a court-ordered search warrant to investigate their residence in North Port, Fla.
Brian's parents were escorted into an unmarked van, in which they sat while crime scene investigators searched their house for any evidence of Brian's whereabouts or answers about Gabby's homicide.
Like Brian, his parents refuse to speak to authorities, while Gabby's family is begging for answers.
Of course, if the Laundrie parents know something and don’t want to give up their son, they do not need to by law. “They can assert their Fifth Amendment privilege, they do not have to cooperate with law enforcement, they do not have to sit down for interviews,” Michelle asserted.
But that may not help them in the end. If they are guilty, “[pleading the Fifth] doesn't mean that you can't prove the case against somebody who doesn't testify.”
Plus, if Brian's parents know something about Gabby's homicide and their son’s whereabouts, then they can be charged with hiding evidence or misleading law enforcement. Although we’re sure Brian’s parents are in an impossible situation, they could be charged with any crimes related to helping Brian, if he is found guilty.
So from hiding his location to scrubbing down his car, which authorities are looking into, Brian's parents could definitely be charged. But on the other hand, if Laundrie’s parents truly don’t know anything, then they have nothing to worry about except for the whereabouts and well-being of their son.
Reporting by Gabrielle Bernadini.