Gabby Petito Case: Role of Brian Laundrie’s parents vital to unravel mysteries

Now that the remains of Brian Laundrie have been positively identified by authorities, there are still lingering questions as to why, how and even when he disappeared in the days after his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was reported missing.

His parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, may be vital to unraveling the mysteries. But their recollections of key moments during these critical days have been inconsistent or conflicted with law enforcement authorities' version of events.

Experts suggest the Laundrie family "has conducted themselves in a very odd way that's generated a lot of suspicion right from the beginning".

The undisputed facts are that Brian Laundrie, 23, and Petito, 22, had been road-tripping in a white van from New York through the US West over the summer, regularly posting photos and stories to their social media pages.

Those posts abruptly stopped in late August, and police say Laundrie returned September 1 in the couple's van without his fiancée to the North Port, Florida, home where he lived with Petito and his parents.

Petito's family reported her missing September 11, and her body was found September 19 in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. A coroner ruled she died by strangulation.

Inside that nine-day period in September, Laundrie left his family home, and differing accounts have emerged from the Laundrie family attorney and the police about what occurred in a narrow period within that time frame from September 13 to 17.

After reporting Petito missing, her family and police publicly pleaded with the Laundrie family to cooperate with authorities. But the Laundrie family invoked the Fifth Amendment means a person cannot be forced to make statements they feel might be negative or used against them.

Still, experts have found it curious that Chris and Roberta Laundrie participated in the investigation and discovery of their son's remains.

During a search with police on Wednesday at the nature reserve, Laundrie's father was first to spot an item belonging to his son. Because he couldn't find law enforcement when he found the bag and didn't want to leave it, he picked it up and gave it to investigators.

"The idea of family members participating in a search and then being the ones actually finding the evidence, and then picking up the evidence and taking it to law enforcement is really quite unusual," said former senior FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole.