Authorities in Florida discovered human remains along with personal items belonging to Brian Laundrie — a person of interest in the death of his fiancée Gabby Petito — in a North Port, Florida, park Wednesday, Oct. 20.
Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office in Florida, confirmed the findings in a press conference. “Earlier today, investigators found what appear to be human remains along with personal items, such as a backpack and notebook, belonging to Brian Laundrie,” he said. “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.”
McPherson was not able to offer any additional details, like who the remains might belong to. “I know you have a lot of questions,” he said, “but we don’t have all the answers yet. We are working diligently to get those answers for you.”
The announcement came hours after officials found some items belonging to Laundrie at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port, Florida. Partial human remains were then found in the Carlton Reserve, which is connected to the park. Per Tampa-based NBC affiliate WFLA, authorities proceeded to block the entrance to the park, and the Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office was called in.
Per a statement from the Laundrie family’s lawyer, Steve Bertolino, Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta, went to the park Wednesday 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,” Bertolino said. “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.”
The discovery comes just over a week after Teton County, Wyoming Coroner Dr. Brent Blue ruled that Petito’s cause of death was strangulation. Petito’s remains were found September 19th in Grand Teton National Park, and the manner of her death had previously been ruled a homicide.
Petito was reported missing on September 11th, disappearing tow months into what was supposed to be a four-month cross-country trip with Laundrie. Laundrie had returned to Florida at the beginning of September without Petito, but with her van. Petito’s family filed the missing person report after failing to get an answer about her whereabouts from Laundrie.
Laundrie then lawyered up and refused to speak with police. On September 17th, Laundrie’s parents allowed investigators into their home in North Port. At that point, the Laundries revealed that they had not seen their son in three days. On top of being named a person of interest in Petito’s death, Laundrie is also wanted on a warrant for debit card fraud committed after Petito’s death.