NORTH PORT, Florida (WABC) -- North Port police have admitted a mistake in their surveillance of Brian Laundrie before his disappearance.
Authorities say they mistook his mother, Roberta, for him the week he went missing.
Police say the misidentification is a direct result of a lack of cooperation from the family early on in the investigation.
They believe there is a good possibility that Brian was already deceased but still needed to be found.
In a statement, they said the misidentification did not have a big impact on costs and the investigation. They said other than confusion, it likely changed nothing.
"They had returned from the park with that Mustang, so who does that? If you think your son is missing since Tuesday, you're going to bring his car back to the home, so it didn't make sense that anyone would do that if he wasn't there, so the individual getting out with a baseball cap we thought was Brian," said NPPD Public Information Officer Josh Taylor.
The Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, released the following statement:
"Everyone makes mistakes. But Brian and Roberta are not 'built' the same. Moreover, it was NPPD that put the ticket on the Mustang at the park and if they saw Brian leave on Monday in the Mustang, which is news to me, then they should have been watching the Mustang and the park starting on Monday and they would have known it was Chris and Roberta that retrieved the Mustang from the park. Now to be clear, none of this may have made a difference with respect to Brian's life but it certainly would have prevented all of the false accusations leveled by so many against Chris and Roberta with respect to 'hiding' Brian or otherwise financing an 'escape.' In the end LE searchers did their best to locate Brian and their efforts are appreciated. I concur with Mr. Taylor that Brian may have already been deceased when NPPD realized that they 'lost track' of him. However you can't blame the family because the police didn't know enough to follow someone they were obviously surveilling. This is a tragedy for two families and any mistakes made by anyone or any entity involved should be acknowledged and used to train or educate others so the mistakes are not repeated."
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