The parents of both Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito were tight-lipped Thursday after the FBI confirmed that the remains found in a Florida wilderness park belonged to the 23-year-old wanted missing man.
Others, including Dog the Bounty Hunter, said Laundrie’s parents were partially to blame for the outcome.
The North Port couple accompanied officials on a search of Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park that turned up his remains Wednesday, along with his backpack and notebook.
They have faced the ire of Petito’s family and protesters for weeks for their silence on her murder and possible complicity in their son’s vanishing act.
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are indeed Brian’s,” Bertolino said in a statement Thursday.
Bertolino told NBC’s “Top Story with Tom Llamas” how the family helped find their son’s body in the reserve near their home, in an area that had previously been underwater and closed to the public.
“My understanding was it either open to the public on Tuesday or Wednesday, and Chris and Roberta decided that since it was open … they wanted to go and look for Brian by themselves,” Bertolino reportedly said. “After speaking with me, I told him that I wanted to notify law enforcement so that we would have no issue.”
Petito’s family has pleaded with the Laundries to come forward with information in the case related to Gabby’s Wyoming murder and Brian’s subsequent disappearance following their ill-fated cross country trip.
A lawyer for the family of the Long Island native said they would not talk to the media Thursday.
“Gabby’s family is not doing interviews or making a statement at this time. They are grieving the loss of their beautiful daughter,” Rick Stafford reportedly said in a statement. “Gabby’s family will make a statement at the appropriate time and when they are emotionally ready.”
Petito’s disappearance and murder, amplified by Laundrie’s bizarre and suspicious behavior that preceded his own disappearance and death, had captivated much of the country’s imagination for a month and a half — as internet sleuths looked to their online profiles for clues and media personalities involved themselves in the case.
Dog The Bounty Hunter called off his own search for Laundrie Wednesday after officials discovered the remains.
The reality star, whose real name is Duane Chapman, blamed Laundrie’s parents for not being forthcoming with information in both missing persons cases.
“The positive ID of Brian Laundrie’s remains gives some measure of closure to this case, if not to Gabby’s family who will likely now never know what truly happened,” Chapman said.
“I believe if the Laundrie parents had fully cooperated from the beginning, Brian Laundrie might still be alive.
“We are praying for Gabby’s family. As a parent who has also lost a child, I know there’s no ending to this story that brings Gabby back. But now the family can begin the process of grieving. Our thoughts are with them.”
Dog also said Thursday that the contents of Laundrie’s notebook could be a key to the case.
“I hope that he confessed, and I think that there might be a kind of a suicide note there,” Chapman told Fox TV’s “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Many Twitter users suggested that the Laundries did not help authorities crack the case by sheer luck after more than a month of fruitless searches in the area.
“It is just all too fishy to me. You don’t walk in and just find his body. Tell me I am not the only one!,” one user wrote.
Others took a more sympathetic tone, while still calling on the Laundries to come clean.
“Such a tragedy for all. Yes, he was most likely a murderer, but he was also their son. I hope the Laundries will reveal all they know as a part of their grief process,” one person tweeted. “Praying for peace for the Petitos/Schmidts. This is all so sad.”
The Laundrie’s lawyer told NBC that he advised his clients to remain mum, and they did not help their son disappear.
“There are two young people that have now lost their lives,” Bertolino reportedly said.
“There are parents that are suffering. Now, I understand that whatever happened or whatever didn’t happen … this is tragic for two families. And anybody with a child, and anybody with a sense of humanity can understand the frustration that both families feel on that point.”