SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — The FBI confirmed Thursday afternoon that remains found in a Florida nature preserve were those of 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, the man named a person of interest in the death of his fiancee, 22-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito.
Update 5:50 p.m. EDT Oct. 21: In a statement late Thursday afternoon, FBI Denver said a comparison of dental records confirmed that the remains found at the Carlton Reserve in Florida are those of Brian Laundrie.
Steve Bertolino, the attorney representing the Laundrie family, confirmed that Chris and Roberta Laundrie were told of the identification Thursday.
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are indeed Brian’s,” he said. “We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundrie’s privacy at this time.”
Laundrie went missing last month, several days before authorities in Wyoming found the remains of Petito, whose death was ruled a homicide by manual strangulation.
Original report: Michael McPherson, the FBI special agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa field office, said Wednesday that during a search earlier in the day at the Carlton Reserve, authorities found possible human remains and items belonging to Laundrie.
“Investigators found what appears to be human remains along with personal items, such as a backpack and notebook, belonging to Brian Laundrie,” he said at a news conference. “These items were found in an area that up until recently had been underwater.”
It was not immediately clear whether the suspected remains found Wednesday were Laundrie’s, although attorney Steven Bertolino told CNN that the “probability is strong that it is Brian’s remains.” He added that the family planned “to wait until the forensic results come in and verify that.”
McPherson said the FBI’s evidence response team was on the scene Wednesday and likely would be “for several days.”
Bertolino told CNN that Brian Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, told him Tuesday that they planned to search trails their son frequented near the Carlton Reserve. The Myakkahatchee Environmental Park, which is adjacent to the reserve, opened to the public Wednesday after being closed for a month amid the search for Brian Laundrie, WWSB reported.
Bertolino told CNN that he notified a police contact of the Laundries plans and that two officers met the couple the next day to search the area.
The attorney said that while accompanied by members of the media, Chris Laundrie found a dry bag in some brambles about 20 feet off a trail. When he reunited with officers, they showed him a photo of a backpack that had been found nearby.
“At that point, the Laundries were notified that there were also remains near the backpack and they were asked to leave the reserve,” Bertolino said. He added that his clients are “heartbroken.”
“It’s quite sad,” he said. “You can imagine as a parent finding your son’s belongings alongside some remains.”
Authorities have combed the Carlton Reserve intermittently for weeks searching for signs of Brian Laundrie after his family reported him missing last month. Police said he was reported missing Sept. 17, three days after he left for the Carlton Reserve, although Bertolino told CNN on Wednesday that the family notified the FBI of his disappearance on the night he left for his hike.
He added that speculation that the Laundrie family planted the items found Wednesday was “hogwash.”
Brian Laundrie is a person of interest in the death of Petito, his fiancee, who vanished in August while they were on a cross-country road trip together. Petito’s family reported her missing last month, and investigators later found her remains in a remote part of the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. A medical examiner later determined that she died of manual strangulation.
Federal authorities in Wyoming issued an arrest warrant for Brian Laundrie after Petito’s remains were discovered, alleging that he had used her debit card “on or about Aug. 30″ through Sept. 1.
Authorities continue to investigate.
©2021 Cox Media Group