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North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor told People that officers mistook Laundrie's mother for him in the days after Petito was reported missing.
He said: "Other than confusion, it likely changed nothing. There is a very good possibility that Brian was already deceased.
"He still needed to be found. We just wanted people to better understand why we thought we knew Brian was in his home."
At the time, officers with the department saw Ms Laundrie in a baseball cap driving her son's silver Mustang and believed the woman was Brian Laundrie.
However, it has now emerged that Laundrie left his home "very upset" on 12 September instead, say lawyers for the family.
At a press conference held on 16 September, Police Chief Todd Garrison told reporters that he knew where Brian Laundrie was located, but now, according to the North Port Police spokesperson, it is likely that Laundrie was already dead at the time.
Taylor said that the Laundrie family's refusal to co-operate with police had made it difficult for them to keep track of Brian Laundrie, and noted that both he and his mother were "built" similarly.
He added: "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 levelled 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."
The FBI confirmed earlier this month that human remains found in a Florida nature reserve were Laundrie's.
Found during a search of Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port, Florida, FBI special agent Michael McPherson confirmed the discovery of human remains and personal items and the items were believed to have belonged to Laundrie, 23, on Wednesday.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/Gabby Petito
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