NORTH PORT, Fla. — Police in Florida said they made mistakes during the investigation into the disappearance of Brian Laundrie, including mistaking his mother for her son.
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North Port Police Department officials told WINK that they had set up cameras around the Laundrie family home, hoping to catch a glimpse of Brian, who was considered a person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito.
In one instance, authorities say they watched Brian leave the home in his Ford Mustang on Sept. 13 and return two days later. However, it was Brian's mother, Roberta, in the car and not the man police were keeping tabs on.
“They’re kind of built similarly,” said Josh Taylor, public information officer for the department. He said Roberta Laundrie was wearing a baseball cap and appeared to be her son.
“They had returned from the park with that Mustang. So who does that? Right? Like, if you think your son’s missing since Tuesday, you’re going to bring his car back to the home. So it didn’t make sense that anyone would do that if he wasn’t there. So the individual getting out with a baseball cap we thought was Brian,” Taylor told the television station.
On Sept. 16, the day after thinking Brian Laundrie had returned to the house in the car, the North Port police chief said officials knew were Brian was located, believing he was inside the home. That changed the next day when Laundrie's own family reported him missing.
Laundrie's remains were found Wednesday in a Florida nature preserve, over a month after his family said he disappeared.