Former FBI agents Terry Turchie and Bryanna Fox say Chris Laundrie’s efforts to help law enforcement search for his fugitive son on Thursday may signal more attempts to assist authorities.
Brian Laundrie is wanted on debit card fraud charges and is a person of interest in the killing of his 22-year-old fiancée, Gabby Petito.
“Watch and listen for any indication that he’s continuing to help them,” Turchie, who spent a year in the North Carolina mountains between 1998 and 1999 leading the hunt for fugitive Olympic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph, told Fox News. “That would be indicative of a breakthrough. … If [Chris Laundrie] is really sincere in wanting to help the law enforcement … and the FBI, and he has nothing to fear, then he’s going to sit down and start just talking.”
The FBI will then determine whether Laundrie is “being authentic and really, really sincerely now decided to try and help them find his son.”
Laundrie on Thursday left his home, which is surrounded by media at all hours of the day, and “accompanied members of law enforcement into the [T. Marby Carlton Jr. Memorial] reserve to show them the trails and places Chris and Brian have hiked and which Brian was known to frequent,” Laundrie family attorney Steve Bertolino said in a Thursday statement.
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The Carlton reserve, where Brian Laundrie’s parents say he disappeared on Sept. 13, is a massive 24,000-acre expanse in Sarasota County, Florida, with 80 miles of hiking trails.
Thursday marked the first time Chris Laundrie assisted law enforcement with the physical search for his son. While Turchie said it is common for the FBI to ask friends and family for help in locating a fugitive, former FBI agent Bryanna Fox said it is “unusual to ask a family member to be involved” in the physical search.
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“In my years of experience in law enforcement searches and participating them and myself, I have never seen a family member of anybody who is a person of interest or suspected case ever be involved,” Fox said.
If a family member of a fugitive comes “across something” at the scene where officials are searching, that person would have access to information that typically only law enforcement and the FBI have access to,” she explained.
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On the other hand, Fox said, authorities “may be able to get really helpful information from him, and that may supersede any type of risk of compromising a piece of evidence.
“By having him out there, and he’s not with his attorneys or, you know, maybe feeling a little bit differently about trying to find his son and feeling really willing to help [law enforcement], he may say things and be more candid than he would … in an interview room at a police department,” Fox said. “So that could be very beneficial for law enforcement.”
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The former agent added that Laundrie’s efforts to help the search may signal a growing concern over his son’s whereabouts. Fox believes it is unusual, however, that Brian Laundrie went “so cold turkey with their entire environment” to the extent that even his parents do not know what happened to him.
Chris Laundrie and his wife Roberta reported their son missing on Sept. 17, though they recently said the last time they saw him was Sept. 13 and that he was likely at the Carlton reserve, though authorities have yet to find evidence of him there. The Laundries have been communicating through their attorney since Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11.