Sheriff Slams Police Over Brian Laundrie: 'We Never Would Have Let Him Out of Our Custody'

A Florida sheriff believes Brian Laundrie should have been detained as soon as Gabby Petito's parents reported her missing.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told a press conference on Thursday that he "would never have let him out of our custody" if his office had been the ones handling the case when Laundrie returned home to Florida alone, driving Petito's van.

"I can tell you at this sheriff's office, when he showed up with her car and she was no place to be found, we never would have let him out of our custody that day," he told reporters.

Judd also indicated Laundrie should have been arrested by police officers responding to reports of a dispute involving Petito and Laundrie in Moab, Utah.

Officers attending to the incident noted that while both Petito and Laundrie had visible injuries as a result of the fight, she was deemed to be the primary aggressor.

No arrests were made, with officers instead opting to separate the pair for the night.

The Moab Police Department's handling of the dispute has since drawn criticism, particularly after a 911 call by an eye-witness who claimed to see Laundrie slapping Petito came to light.

An investigation has since been launched into the department's handling of the case.

Judd commented on the incident: "I can tell you that according to Florida law, when she was the victim of domestic violence originally, he would've been arrested."

The Polk County sheriff was keen to stress, however, that he could "only speculate" based on what has been reported in the news.

Laundrie remains a person of interest in the disappearance and homicide of Petito.

A timeline of the 23-year-old's known whereabouts indicates he drove Petito's van back to his parent's home in North Port, Florida on September 1.

Ten days later, Petito's family reported her missing to the Suffolk County Police Department on Long Island, New York.

Officers from the North Port Police Department attempted to speak with Laundrie but were told by his parents to contact his lawyer.

Laundrie was named as a person of interest on September 15. North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor acknowledged that because Laundrie had not been named as a suspect, as Petito's whereabouts had yet to be established, they were limited in what they could do.

However, by then Laundrie had left his family's home in Florida. He was last seen there on September 14, with his parents going on to report him missing three days later.

Five days later, Petito's body was found in an area of Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

The FBI subsequently issued a federal arrest warrant for Laundrie on September 23 over his alleged unauthorized use of Petito's debit card.

There have been several reported sightings of Laundrie in Florida's Fort De Soto Park, as well as in Alabama and even Canada, but at the time of writing he remains at large.

brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie remains a person of interest in the disappearance and homicide of Gabby Petito. A Florida sheriff believes he should have been arrested as soon as he returned on his own from their trip together. Moab City Police Department