The FBI has confirmed human remains found near a large Florida nature preserve are those of Brian Laundrie, the lone person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito.
A comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found in a Florida nature preserve belong to Laundrie, the FBI said in a statement Thursday.
Laundrie had been missing since last month, just before Petito, his fiance and traveling partner, was found dead by homicide in Wyoming.
There was a federal warrant out for his arrest on charges of credit card fraud, and he was wanted as a "person of interest" in the investigation into the killing of 22-year-old Petito.
The Sarasota medical examiner said on Wednesday it was called to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, located on 160 acres of heavily wooded land connected to the Carlton Reserve. Laundrie's parents directed the FBI and North Port police to the location where "some articles belonging to Brian were found," according to a statement by Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino.
Hours later, in a brief statement to the media, the FBI confirmed that human remains had been found near a large Florida nature preserve in the hunt for Laundrie.
"Earlier today, investigators found what appears to be human remains, as well as personal items such as a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie," Michael McPherson, special in charge of the FBI's Tampa Field Office, said Wednesday afternoon. "These items were found in an area that up until recently had been underwater. Our evidence response team is on scene using all available forensic resources to process the area. It’s likely the team will be on scene for several days."
The young couple went on a cross-country road trip, stopping at various national parks along the way and posting about their "van life" adventures on social media. They started their summer tour in New York on July 22 and made stops in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to his home in Florida without Petito.
Local, state, and federal authorities had been searching for Petito after her mother, who lives in New York, reported her missing on Sept. 11.
Both law enforcement and Petito's family made public pleas to Laundrie to answer questions about her disappearance but he refused.
Petito's remains were found in Wyoming's Bidger-Teton National Forest on Sept. 19. Her death was initially ruled as a homicide by a coroner.
Laundrie's parents told authorities he left to go camping at the Carlton Reserve near their home on Sept. 14 but never returned. Investigators initially focused their search for him at the 25,000-acre nature reserve but scaled it back significantly after the Federal Bureau of Investigation took over the case.
Laundrie's parents have come under intense scrutiny but they have denied helping their son evade law enforcement.
Steve Bertolino, an attorney representing the family, said any "speculation" that the they assisted in Laundrie's disappearance "is just wrong."
"Chris and Roberta Landrie do not know where Brian is," he said. "They are concerned about Brian and hope the FBI can locate him."
Courtesy of Rick Stafford / Find Gabby
An attorney for Petito's family expressed skepticism that Laundrie's parents would aid in any search to bring him in for questioning.
"The Laundries did not help us find Gabby and they're sure not going to help us find Brian," Richard Stafford said. "For Brian, we're asking you to turn yourself in to the FBI or the nearest law enforcement agency."
The Petito-Laundrie mystery turned into a nationwide obsession with thousands of armchair sleuths combing through clues, dissecting details, and debunking theories on what might have happened.
On Aug. 12, the couple had been stopped by officers from the Moab Police Department in Utah. Newly released body camera video from the stop includes a conversation between Petito and a police officer where she claims Laundrie hit her. However, during her first interview with authorities, she said he had not hit her. Instead, she claimed she had slapped him repeatedly and he had pushed her off of him. The couple was separated for the night.
There had been alleged sightings of Laundrie in multiple states from Florida to as far away as the Appalachian Trail.
The sheriffs' offices in Watauga and Avery counties in North Carolina said they have received more than half a dozen tips that Laundrie could be in the area.
The patch of trail has also been the focus of Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Champan, who formed his own team of searchers for Laundrie.
His daughter Lyssa Chapman tweeted on Oct. 1, "By boat, plane, or train #BrianLaudrie (sic) will be captured and brought to justice."
Laundrie was never charged in Petito's homicide.
On Sept. 22, the FBI issued an arrest warrant, charging Laundrie with unauthorized use of a debit card. The indictment, unsealed on Sept. 23, alleges Laundrie used a Capital One Bank card and someone's personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 between Aug. 20 and Sept. 1, the period in which Petito went missing.
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Original Author: Elizabeth Faddis, Barnini Chakraborty
Original Location: FBI identifies human remains as belonging to Brian Laundrie