Protesters repeatedly chanted “Justice for Gabby” as the FBI revealed it would take some time to confirm whether human remains found in a Florida nature reserve belong to Brian Laundrie.
The FBI special agent in charge of the bureau’s Tampa office, Michael McPherson, said the remains found in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on Wednesday were located next to a backpack and notebook belonging to Mr Laundrie.
Follow all the latest on the Brian Laundrie search here.
“The team will be on the scene for several days,” Mr McPherson said, adding that law enforcement were working “diligently” to confirm the identity of the remains.
After the brief news conference, supporters of Ms Petito began chanting “Justice for Gabby” as Mr McPherson walked away from the cameras.
Dozens of law enforcement officers have been searching the the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park since articles belonging to Mr Laundrie had been located by his parents Chris and Roberta on Wednesday morning.
At the press conference on Wednesday afternoon held at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park close to where the remains were found, Mr McPherson called Mr Laundrie a “person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito”.
The case has been ruled a homicide by the Teton County Coroner Brent Blue, and this is believed to be the first time her death has been described as murder by a law enforcement official.
“Earlier today, investigators found what appears to be human remains, along with personal items such as a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie,” Mr McPherson said.
“These items were found in an area that up until recently had been under water.
“Our evidence response team is on the scene using all available forensic resources to process the area.
“It’s likely the team will be on the scene for several days. I know you have a lot of questions, but we don’t have all the answers yet.
“We are working diligently to get those answers for you.”
Mr McPherson paid tribute to the numerous agencies who have been assisting in the search.
“Complex investigations such as this cannot be accomplished by one agency alone.”
Mr McPherson said the area would be closed to the public for some time, and asked people to stay away.
“This is an active and high level investigation, and we ask the public to maintain their distance from any law enforcement personnel for the safety of the public and to protect the integrity of our work.”
He directed all future inquiries to the FBI’s Denver office, which has been leading the investigation into Ms Petito’s death.
They told The Independent they had no further comment.
Mr Laundrie is the sole “person of interest” in the death of his girlfriend Ms Petito, whose remains were found on 19 September in Wyoming.
A coroner ruled her death a homicide by manual strangulation, and said her remains had been at the location for 3-4 weeks before being found.