Human remains have been found in the hunt for fugitive Brian Laundrie, the 23-year-old fiancé of murdered Gabby Petito, five weeks after he went on the run in an alligator-infested Florida swamp and on the day his parents joined investigators in the nature reserve together for the first time.
The grim discovery was made on Wednesday afternoon in the Carlton reserve in Florida, near Laundrie’s home, along with a backpack and notebook.
Until Tuesday, the reserve had been sealed off to the public while investigators searched for any sign of him. It reopened on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning, Laundrie’s mother and father, Roberta and Chris, joined the search teams in the morning for the firs time together.
Within a few hours, the remains – along with the other items – had been found.
Local authorities say the nature reserve was largely submerged in water in September, when police first searched the park. The FAA has issued a temporary suspension on flights over the park – that applies to drones and aircraft – until 4pm Friday.
If the remains are identified to be Brian’s, it brings a somber end to a hunt for a killer that has captivated the nation.
Pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told DailyMail.com that it is likely the FBI already know that the remains are Brian’s, and that they would have been able to confirm it immediately, but are waiting for more examination to determine the cause of death.
‘Dental is 99.9 percent immediately accurate. They know it’s him. But the cause of death might still take a while to determine. The cause of death has to be determined at autopsy, which probably won’t be performed till tomorrow or the next day,’ he said.
At a briefing at 4.30pm, FBI Special Agent Michael McPherson confirmed that human remains had been found, but he would not speculate on the identity of those remains, nor would he reveal how long they had been there.
He told reporters at the scene: ‘I know you have a lot of questions but we don’t have all the answers yet.’
He referred to Laundrie as a person of interest in Gabby’s murder. Previously, authorities had been referring to him just as a suspect of theft, for using Gabby’s credit card.
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A police officer is pictured walking in the Carlton Reserve with what appears to be the strap of Brian Laundrie’s backpack, in a white plastic bag. The discovery was made on Wednesday, five weeks after he went on the run following the disappearance of his fiance Gabby Petito. She was found strangled to death in September
Chris and Roberta Laundrie (pictured) alerted investigators on Tuesday night that they intended to search Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park for their son on Wednesday morning. The FBI and North Port Police Department agreed to meet them at the park
Brian Laundrie, 23, is the sole suspect in the murder of his 22-year-old fiancee Gabby Petito. Her strangled body was found in September, weeks after she was last seen alive. The pair were on a cross-country camper van trip when she vanished and he went home in September
The Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office is at the scene. It’s unclear how long it may take for the remains to be formally identified
The manhunt for Laundrie continued on Wednesday, a day after the park was reopened to the public following weeks of unsuccessful searches for the 23-year-old fugitive
TIMELINE OF GABBY PETITO DISAPPEARANCE AND DEATH
July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip
August 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple
Aug. 17: Laundrie allegedly flies back to Florida to ‘clear out a storage unit’
Aug. 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah
Aug. 23: Laundrie flies back to Utah to ‘rejoin Gabby’ on their trip
Aug. 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie
Aug. 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nichole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park
August 30: Gabby’s family receive final text from her phone saying ‘No service in Yosemite’
Sept. 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito
Sept. 13: Laundrie’s lawyer says on October 5 that his parents now ‘believe’ this was the day they last saw him heading for a hike
Sept. 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown
Sept. 21: Coroner confirms remains found in Grand Tetons belong to Petito
Oct. 12: Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announces autopsy findings which show Petito died by strangulation
Oct. 16: Petito’s parents are seen collecting her ashes from the Valley Mortuary in Jackson, Wyoming
October 20: Human remains found in Carlton Reserve
Steve Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family, said in a statement: ‘Chris and Roberta Laundrie went to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park this morning to search for Brian.
‘The FBI and NPPD were informed last night of Brian’s parents’ intentions and they met Chris and Roberta there this morning.
‘After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented some articles belonging to Brian were found. As of now law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of that area.’ He would not be drawn on further details.
Authorities have been searching the park for weeks, but the portion where the remains were found on Tuesday were previously underwater, according to NBC.
Gabby and Brian embarked on a cross-country trip earlier this summer with a plan to document it all on film for their social media channels.
Their loved-up Instagram persona was a far cry from the combative relationship that was playing out behind the scenes.
Just a few weeks before she vanished, police in Moab, Utah, were called to the pair’s van after fellow travelers saw Brian hit Gabby.
They were separated for the night, and Gabby was deemed to be the aggressor. August 26 was the last time anyone saw or heard from Gabby.
Laundrie returned to his parents home on September 1.
At first, they told cops they last saw him on September 14. They later said it was in fact September 13, when he told them he was going on a hike in the reserve and never returned.
He has been on the run ever since and his parents refused to speak publicly about the case or help Gabby’s parents.
They retrieved her remains from a mortuary in Wyoming last week.
On Tuesday, a day before the remains were found, Chris and Roberta Laundrie were seen shopping in North Port.
Among the items they were seen carrying was a cardboard box.
Later that night, they said they planned to join Wednesday’s search.
The pair were photographed on the search on Wednesday by FOX News.
They were seen walking with an officer, who was overheard saying: ‘I think we might have found something.’
The officer then emerged with a bag that contained articles belonging to Laundrie.
The FBI and North Port Police Department have closed the park, which just reopened to the public on Tuesday after being closed to the public for nearly a month due to the ongoing search for Laundrie.
The Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park is situated on 160 acres of heavily wooded land and connects to the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve.
Laundrie was reported missing by his parents on September 17 after claiming they last saw him three days prior. His whereabouts have been unknown ever since.
Federal investigators issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie on September 23 for ‘use of unauthorized access device’ last month after alleging he used a Capitol One Bank debit card that wasn’t his.
The Carlton Reserve in Florida is 13 miles from where the Laundrie family lives in North Port
Until Wednesday, there had been no signs of Laundrie at the Carlton Reserve in Florida, the area his parents cite as the last place he was seen.
Last week, North Port police noted there was ‘nothing to suggest’ whether Laundrie was dead or alive.
Officials claimed no one had seen him in the reserve and search teams didn’t find any physical evidence of his presence in the area.
On Tuesday, Chris and Roberta broke cover for a nearly five-hour shopping trip, dodging questions about their son’s whereabouts as they shipped a mysterious package labeled ‘meal kit’.
The couple emerged from their home in North Port, Florida, at 7.45am Tuesday and climbed into their red Dodge Ram truck for the trip.
After making a few stops, DailyMail.com spotted them at a FedEx store where Christopher went inside carrying a parcel with the intriguing words ‘meal kit’ stamped on one end. The addressee could not be seen.
DailyMail.com spotted Brian Laundrie’s parents on a five-hour shopping trip Tuesday morning
After making a few stops, DailyMail.com spotted them stop at a FedEx store where Christopher went inside carrying a parcel with the intriguing words ‘meal kit’ stamped on one end
They also refused to answer DailyMail.com’s inquiries of ‘is he in the park, did you help him get there?’ in reference to the massive swampland search for survivalist Brian, 23, that started nearly five weeks ago at the alligator-infested Carlton Reserve near North Port
Chris and Roberta have been widely criticized for refusing to publicly speak about the case
Gabby’s father Joseph Petito clutches the ashes of his murdered daughter, whose remains were found at a nearby campsite on September 19
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito are shown on August 12 after being pulled over by police in their van. The cops had received reports of a fight between the pair. Witnesses said they saw Laundrie hit Petito. She was however deemed to be the aggressor in the argument, and the pair were separated for the night
They refused to answer DailyMail.com’s questions when asked ‘is he in the park, did you help him get there?’ in reference to the massive swampland search for survivalist Brian, 23, that started nearly five weeks ago at the alligator-infested Carlton Reserve near their home.
The Laundrie family lawyer, Anthony Bertolino, gave a statement attempting to express sympathy to Petito’s family on Thursday after her cause of death was revealed.
‘Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy. While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise.
‘At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him.’
Petito’s mother texted a reported a curt, blunt response.
‘His words are garbage. Keep talking,’ she wrote to a reporter from WFLA in Florida.
Gabby’s family said earlier this week that they wanted him to spend the rest of his life in a jail cell. She also abhorred Roberta and Chris for not helping them.
‘Silence speaks volumes. I believe they know most of the information. I would love to just face to face ask, “Why are you doing this? Just tell me the truth.”
‘He’s a coward. I don’t want to say he’s insane because he went home, he’s hiding, he used her credit card. That’s not somebody who’s gone crazy.
Jim, her husband, added: ‘We want vengeance. And justice.’