The North Port Police Department (NPPD) told WINK News that officers surveilling the Laundrie house thought it was Brian Laundrie who returned home on Sept. 15 after leaving on Sept. 13, but it was in fact his mother, Roberta Laundrie.
"They’re kind of built similarly," NPPD public information officer Josh Taylor told WINK, noting the person who returned was driving the same gray Mustang Brian Laundrie had left in and was wearing a baseball cap.
That led officers to believe Brian Laundrie was still present inside the home in the days leading up to his family reporting him missing on Sept. 17.
"All I’m going to say is we know where Brian Laundrie is at," North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said on Sept. 16.
"When the family reported him [missing] on Friday. That was certainly news to us that they had not seen him," Taylor reportedly said. "We thought that we seen Brian initially come back into that home on that Wednesday. But we now know that that wasn’t true."
He also noted that "the area was difficult to keep an eye on with the growing activity," according to NBC News.
Authorities launched a manhunt for Laundrie after he was declared a missing person. His body was found in a Florida nature preserve last week, and the FBI has since confirmed the remains to be his through dental records. Petito's body was found in September in Wyoming. On Oct. 12, Petito's cause of death was determined to be strangulation.