Brian Laundrie search: Florida sheriff would 'have NEVER let him out of custody' after he left Gabby Petito in Utah

A FLORIDA police chief said he would have never let Brian Laundrie leave his sight if he had full authority in the search for the only person of interest in Gabby Petito's death.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said he would have detained Laundrie as soon as he arrived back home in North Port, Florida in his fiance's van without his fiance.


"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 on Thursday.

"Other than that, I’m not sure where their investigation is," Judd added.

Laundrie returned to his North Port home on September 1 in Petito's van, leading police to believe he drove her van back 10 days before she was reported missing.

The sole person of interest named in Petito's disappearance and subsequent homicide, Laundrie then retained a lawyer and refused to cooperate with authorities.

At the time, North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor said there was little the authorities could do because Laundrie was not named as a suspect and "we don't have a crime."

Laundrie then disappeared from his family's home on September 14 and was only reported missing three days later forcing plenty of speculation that he is on the run.

Judd commented on Laundrie's disappearance as well as a police encounter Laundrie and Petito had while in Moab, Utah.

After someone witnessed Petito and Laundrie get into a physical altercation, police were called but determined Petito had been the primary aggressor and decided to split the pair for the night.

Read our Brian Laundrie live blog for the very latest news and updates…

The Moab Police Department has since been coming under fire for its handling of the dispute, with the police chief Bret Edge taking a leave of absence while the department investigates the matter.

"I can tell you that according to Florida law, when she was the victim of domestic violence originally, he would’ve been arrested," Judd said in reference to the incident.

He did note that his department was "not involved in the investigation," but that he is reading the news like everyone else.

Judd said he can "only speculate based upon news reports, and as you know, those are incomplete at best, and sometimes they can be fictionalized at worst."


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