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Brian Laundrie cause of death determination could follow similar timeline to Gabby Petito

Posted at 12:50 AM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 00:50:53-04

SARASOTA COUNTY — Now that Brian Laundrie's remains have been located, the Sarasota County Medical Examiner has the job of determining how he died in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.

We had the chance to speak with Professor Peter Massey, the Program Coordinator of the Forensic Studies program at the University of South Florida. He said, if the cause of death isn’t obvious, it could be several weeks before we learn what happened to Laundrie.

Professor Massey said there are several tell tale signs that could lead the Medical Examiner to a quick conclusion about the cause of death.

“If it was a gun shot, 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," said Massey.

But Massey said there are other causes of death that don’t leave a mark of any kind, and could lead investigators to leave Laundrie's death listed as "undetermined."

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

The FBI will remain at the scene for several days, collecting any evidence they can that could tell them more.

But Massey said, after more than a month of the remains being underwater, we have to be prepared for a potential inconclusive result.

“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," said Massey.

We know that the autopsy for Gabby Petito ended up taking 23 days from the time her body was found on September 19th to the time her autopsy was released by the Teton County Coroner on October 12th, showing she died by strangulation.

That delay was in part because the body had decomposed after being exposed to the elements for three to four weeks. Massey said it could take just as long in Laundrie's case.