CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Analysts say investigators ‘missed opportunities’ in Gabby Petito investigation

Oct 20, 2021, 6:57 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 12:04 pm

emotional abuse moab police petito domestic violence strangulation gabby petito investigation...

Bodycam footage from the Moab Police Department shows Gabby Petito while speaking with officers. Photo: Moab Police Department

NORTH PORT, Florida – Investigators with the FBI are confirming partial human remains were spotted in an area where they were searching for Brian Laundrie, the only person of interest in the investigation into the murder of YouTuber Gabby Petito.

Federal investigators say it’s far too soon to officially confirm if the partial remains are those of Brian Laundrie.  However, investigators found some of his personal items, like a backpack and notebook, close to the scene.  Officials say they will use “all available resources” to collect the evidence. That potentially means closing the scene to the public for the next few days.

Gabby Petito investigation: Harder than it looks

North Port Police received heavy criticism after Laundrie disappeared. He vanished less than a week before the investigation led to the remains of Gabby Petito in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest. Would round-the-clock surveillance on Laundrie have prevented him from leaving? 

Former Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank says 24-hour surveillance is much harder than the movies make it appear to be.

“One, [there is] being undetected.  Two, the resources and you cannot restrict his movement,” Burbank said.

There are other methods to track a person of interest while police try to gather enough evidence to build a case. However, Burbank says they’re not instantly available.

“What you tend to rely on is video surveillance.  You tend to rely on tracking devices and some of those other things, which all, then, require warrants,” according to Burbank.

Was there probable cause to search Brian Laundrie?

In order to get a warrant, you need probable cause.  Former Utah prosecutor Kent Morgan says “suspicious” activity, by itself, likely won’t convince a judge to sign a warrant.  However, he believes the domestic violence call in Moab involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie could arguably establish probable cause in the investigation. 

“That may lead a lot of judges to believe there’s probable cause to believe that something criminal has taken place,” Morgan said.

According to Morgan, many judges would agree to issue warrants in the case of a missing woman involved in multiple fights with her boyfriend.  He believes this was a missed opportunity to execute search warrants on the Laundrie home and possibly Laundrie, himself.

“In this case, a lot of suspicious activity adds to this, and you can go to a judge and say, ‘Judge, can I have a search warrant?’  The sooner you do that, the better off you will be,” Morgan said.

Morgan says failing to execute search warrants quickly can result in the loss of many pieces of forensic evidence.

Related articles:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

BEAR LAKE COUNTY, Idaho -- Authorities in Idaho say human remains were uncovered Thursday morning i...

Kennedy Camarena

13-year-old died after going missing at Bear Lake

A 13-year-old girl was reported to be missing at Bear Lake on Saturday. She was later found; her death was pronounced by medical personnel.

39 minutes ago

Police say two minors in Sugar House fought off an alleged kidnapper....

Kennedy Camarena

Man arrested after allegedly attempting to kidnap girl in Sugar House neighborhood

Two minors fought off a man who attempted to kidnap one of them in Sugar House, Salt Lake City Police Department said.

24 hours ago

An Salt Lake City Police car with its lights on....

Kennedy Camarena

Man in critical but stable condition after being shot on Sunday

SALT LAKE CITY — A 27-year-old man has gone from life-threatening condition to critical but stable after being shot, according to police. The Salt Lake City Police Department said in a press release that the man was shot near 1500 North Mandalay Road around 2:37 a.m. early Sunday. When police arrived, they found that the […]

1 day ago

Someone is setting empty buildings on fire in Mantua amid wildfire season...

Darby Sparks, KSLTV.com

POLICE: Someone is setting empty buildings on fire in Mantua amid wildfire season

Someone is setting empty buildings on fire in Mantua amid wildfire season. Until now there are three reported fires and an unreported fourth.

1 day ago

Daniel Martinez sentenced for Draper party shooting...

CARLYSLE PRICE, KSLTV.com

Daniel Martinez sentenced for Draper party shooting

Daniel Martinez was sentenced Thursday to 50 years in jail for the deaths of 2 people at a party at an Airbnb in Draper.

2 days ago

Three men arrested at the Salt Lake International Airport in connection with a coordinated carjacki...

Eric Cabrera

LISTEN: Thieves using modern tech to steal cars

A longtime master tech said tools seen recently at the airport mirrors methods car thieves use to intercept garage door signals.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Analysts say investigators ‘missed opportunities’ in Gabby Petito investigation