A body found in a Florida nature reserve on Wednesday likely belong to the missing 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, fiancé of Gabby Petito, who was found dead in Wyoming last month.
“The probability is strong that it is Brian’s remains,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said on Wednesday, according to CNN. “It’s quite sad, you can imagine as a parent, finding your son’s belongings alongside from the remains. That’s got to be heartbreaking. And I can tell you that they are heartbroken.”
Authorities found human remains at a site in Carlton Reserve in North Port, Florida. Law enforcement also found a backpack and notebook that belonged to Laundrie. Officials called the Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office to the scene the body was found, as well as dispatched a cadaver dog from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department to the reserve.
Laundrie is a person of interest in the death of his fiancée Petito. Petito was reported missing on September 11 after she had gone several weeks without contacting her parents. Laundrie is also being sought by authorities for alleged bank fraud.
Laundrie and Petito had taken off together on a cross-country road trip earlier this year, but only Laundrie returned to Florida in their van on September 1. He was reported last seen by his parents in mid-September. Several days later, the FBI raided the Laundrie’s parents’ home, carrying away boxes of evidence and confiscating one of their vehicles.
Petito’s body was found near an undeveloped campsite in a Wyoming park in mid-September. The coroner who examined her body ruled her death a homicide.
“Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999,” the FBI said in a statement at the time. “Coroner Blue’s initial determination for the manner of death is homicide. The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results.”
Several people reported seeing Petito and Laundrie alive together in late August, including several law enforcement officers who met with the couple after responding to a domestic disturbance call. The officers convinced the couple to spend the night apart. One of the responding officers, Melissa Hulls of the National Park Service, implored Petito to “reevaluate the relationship” and leave Laundrie.
In late September, Petito’s father, Joe, eulogized his daughter and told members of the audience that “if there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it. Now.”
“I want you to take a look at these pictures, and I want you to be inspired by Gabby,” he said in part. “That’s what we’re looking for; that’s something that I want to see. If there’s a trip you guys want to take, take it. Now. Do it now while you have the time. If there is a relationship that you’re in that might not be the best thing for you, leave it. Now.”
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