Brian Laundrie’s parents are not likely to face criminal charges in connection with Gabby Petito’s disappearance and suspected death, law-enforcement experts told The Post on Monday, citing the difficulty in building any potential case against them.
Christopher and Roberta Laundrie have kept mum since Petito was reported missing Sept. 11, even barring cops from speaking to their lawyered-up son, who has since vanished himself.
The sensational case took a tragic turn Sunday when a body “consistent” with Petito’s description was found at Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.
But while the discovery of the corpse apparently provided enough probable cause for the feds to execute a search warrant at the Laundrie home Monday, it still doesn’t mean the Laundries are in hot water over anything, experts said.
“I doubt it,” said Alfredo Garcia, a former Florida assistant state attorney, when asked whether Christopher and Roberta Laundrie could be charged in the case — which involves their son as a “person of interest.”
“To charge someone as an accessory after the fact, you have to establish that the person knew that they were harboring someone who had committed a crime and they did so in a way to prevent the police from apprehending him,” said Garcia, a professor at the St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens. “That’s a fairly high threshold [authorities] have to find in terms of intent.”
“I seriously doubt an obstruction charge now is in the cards,” he said.
Roberta and Christopher reported Brian missing to police Friday. The parents said he told them three days earlier that he was going on a hike near their home and never returned.
Former FBI Agent Oliver Farache agreed that it would be very hard to charge the parents with anything.
“I think it’s going to be very unlikely that anybody’s going to be charged other than Brian if it turns out he’s the one who is suspected of having committed the crime,” Farache said.
“I think as a general rule it’s very difficult to charge parents for helping a kid if they weren’t part of the act itself.”
“I can’t imagine a lot of prosecutorial resources going to go after the parents,” he added.
Also in the Laundries’ favor is the fact that they refused to speak to investigators in the early days of the probe — meaning charges of lying to law enforcement could be off the table, the experts said.
“It depends on if they actively interfered in the investigation,” said former Manhattan prosecutor Daniel Bibb. “They certainly can’t be charged with anything for refusing to speak to the police. But if they’re actively thwarting an investigation, they could.”
The next crucial step in the case is an autopsy of the body found in Wyoming scheduled for Tuesday, Trent County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue told The Post.
The autopsy will not only provide a positive identification of the remains but also determine the cause of death — and whether foul play was involved.
“The autopsy really is the most important thing right now — and whatever else they find at the crime scene,” a retired NYPD detective told The Post. “If she fell, she could have blunt force trauma.”
“If she doesn’t appear to have fallen and she has a fractured skull, well, that shows something else,” the ex-cop said. “Then you’re getting towards a homicide.”