Last week, the search for Brian Laundrie seemed to come to an end after remains speculated to be his were found in an area that had previously been underwater. The North Port Police Department found remains that were described as “skeletal” at the Carlton Reserve in Florida.
Although several of his personal possessions, including a backpack and a notebook, were found nearby, an autopsy of the remains came back inconclusive, according to an attorney representing the family.
The remains have now been sent to an anthropologist “for further evaluation.”
Why An Anthropologist?
Fox News brought in several experts to help explain what information an anthropologist can provide.
According to forensic pathologist Michael Baden, there are several ways that an anthropologist can help determine the identity of the bones.
“One way or another, they’ll determine from the autopsy and the toxicology the cause and manner of death,” he explained. “The post-mortem examination will take into account the bones and any soft tissues that are still present.”
The soft tissues will allow experts to do a toxicology report, which will help determine if the cause of death was natural or accidental.
USF Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Erin Kimmerle added, “Just depending on what’s on the bone – if there’s trauma, if there are injuries, if there’s post-mortem damage, that’s pretty evident. So usually, we can come to a conclusion with a high degree of scientific certainty.”
She further explained that the body being in the water actually slowed the decomposition of the remains, although she admitted that it can only take a week for a body to become skeletal due to Florida’s hot, wet weather.
She explained that the remains being underwater actually helped in this case, as it “prohibits predators and scavenging, which adds a lot to the rate of decomposition, especially in Florida.”
I suspect Brian Laundrie committed suicide, but unless he left a suicide note in the notebook found with his body, the cause of his death may be tough or even impossible to prove.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) October 25, 2021
Speculated Cause Of Death
In a statement to NBC News, Steven Bertolino revealed that “No manner or cause of death was determined” in the original autopsy.
Experts have been weighing in to suggest possibilities of what could have happened to Laundrie, ranging from accidental death to suicide.
Even horror master Stephen King couldn’t help but weigh in, tweeting, “I suspect Brian Laundrie committed suicide, but unless he left a suicide note in the notebook found with his body, the cause of his death may be tough or even impossible to prove.”
Laundrie has been a person of interest in the disappearance of his fiancée, Gabby Petito. On September 19, a body was found in Grant Teton National Park in Wyoming, where the pair had been camping when she disappeared. A lawyer for the Petito family later confirmed that the body had been identified as Gabby on September 21.
Although Laundrie returned from a road trip without her on September 1, she was not reported missing until September 11. He went missing a few days later after he reportedly left to go on a hike and never returned home.