TAMPA (WFLA) – North Port Police Department officials admitted Monday that investigators made mistakes in Brian Laundrie’s case. The department’s spokesperson said officers thought they were keeping a close eye on Laundrie before he went missing but actually confused him for his mother.
Public Information Officer Josh Taylor spoke exclusively to WINK and said, while police watched the house, they believed they saw Brian Laundrie leave in his gray Mustang. Taylor later confirmed the report to WFLA, saying Laundrie’s mother was mistaken for her son.
Taylor told WINK Laundrie and his mother are “kind of built similarly” and they believe Laundrie’s mom was wearing a baseball cap when the mistake happened.
He confirmed to WFLA that the mix-up happened on Wednesday, Sept. 15 – two days before a missing person report for Laundrie was filed in North Port but, according to the Laundrie family’s attorney, several days after he actually went missing.
When Laundrie was first publicly declared a missing person, police said his parents had last seen him leave home to go hiking in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port on Sept. 14. However, at the beginning of October, attorney Steve Bertolino provided an updated timeline and said the Laundrie family believed their son left one day earlier, on Sept. 13.
Bertolino told 8 On Your Side’s Mahsa Saeidi last week he notified the FBI the night Laundrie failed to return home. He also said the parents went to the park on Sept. 15 and brought the Mustang home so it wouldn’t get towed.
In his interview with WINK, Taylor said it was “certainly news to us” when Laundrie was reported missing on Sept. 17.
During a North Port police news conference on Sept. 16, Police Chief Todd Garrison was asked, “do you know where Brian Laundrie is right now?” Garrison responded, “yes.”
Bertolino confirmed the next day that the whereabouts of the Laundries’ son were unknown. His statement came after police spent more than two hours at the Laundrie family home, at the family’s request.
News Nation’s Brian Entin reported that police had kept tabs on Laundrie before he disappeared by placing surveillance cameras around his family’s home, but they missed him leaving to go to the reserve. Authorities said the lack of charges against Laundrie prevented them from taking more drastic measures.
“What I’ll say is that we were the ones doing everything in our power to get answers on this. If mistakes were made, there’s human error involved in every investigation. It certainly wasn’t from a lack of taking it seriously or hustle or knowledge. Sometimes things happen,” Taylor told WINK.
According to Bertolino, Brian’s parents are “grieving privately in Florida,” with their daughter Cassie. So far, they don’t have a formal funeral plan for Brian.