GABBY PETITO'S CASE

What was Brian Laundrie's cause of death?

The human remains found in Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park have been confirmed by the FBI on Thursday to be those of the missing suspect.

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What was Brian Laundrie's cause of death?
FLORIDA POLICE via REUTERS

The FBI confirmed Thursday afternoon that the human remains found the previous day on Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park have been determined to be those of Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the Gabby Petito murder case.

The cause of his death is still being investigated by forensic examiners, while the FBI continues to analyze the nearby area in order to find more information on what happened to Laundrie.

Cause of Laundrie death could take weeks

We know that Gabby Petito's case took just over three weeks, -- exactly 23 days from when the body was found -- for the cause of death to be determined and publicly revealed by the Wyoming forensic team in charge of the case. Despite the cause of death being strangulation, what happened to Gabby took longer than expected for us to learn due to how decomposed the body was when it was found, having been exposed to the elements for three to four weeks prior to the discovery.

According to the Coordinator of the Forensic Studies program at the University of South Florida, Peter Massey, Brian Laundrie's cause of death could take at least as long as Gabby Petito's, due to fact that the body remains have been underwater for potentially as long as a month causing the body decomposition to accelerate.

"If the cause of death isn't obvious, it could be several weeks before we learn what happened to Laundrie," he said.

Forensic tell-tale signs

In order for the cause of death to be obvious, Medical examiners will have to look for various tell-tale signs such as marks, scratches and any other damage to the bones.

“If it was a gunshot, we would look for bones that had been broken. If it was a stab wound, we’d look for damage to a bone, a cut mark. If it was an animal, we’d look for bite marks, teeth marks on the bones. Drugs, we can look in the hair, we can look in the bones," Massey added

Laundrie's cause of death could remain "undetermined"

With Laundrie's remains still under investigation, the FBI will continue analyzing the area for more hints on what happened to him leading up to his premature death.

Police tape restricts access to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on October 20, 2021, in North Port, Florida, following skeletal remains found.

However, after the remains being underwater for around a month, Laundrie’s cause of death is at risk of joining the long list of “undetermined”, which means whatever happened to the victim cannot be determined by the body remains.

Taking into account that only bones were found, there are many causes of death that might have not left a mark of any kind on the remains.

“The tough one is going to be dehydration, starvation. Those are things that we’re just never going to be able to determine," Massey explained.

Nevertheless, Massey thinks people and families have to be prepared for a likely inconclusive story following the state the remains were found in.

We can’t ask them to create something that’s not there just to satisfy people. So if it’s undetermined, it’s going to be undetermined, period," Massey said.

Brian Laundrie's body remains

After the remains were found between Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park and T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve, they were initially described as "skeletal" and "human appearing," and now confirmed by the FBI to be those of Laundrie. According to officials, dental records were key in identifying the corpse.

The statement released read: "On October 21, 2021, a comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are those of Brian Laundrie."