The skeletal remains of Brian Laundrie were found in Florida’s Carlton Reserve on Wednesday, not far from Laundrie’s parents’ home. Police and FBI agents had been searching for more than a month, after his family reported him missing in mid-September.
Not only was Laundrie missing, he was a person of interest in the disappearance of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, whose body was found in Wyoming. The FBI field office in Denver announced that the remains were positively identified on Thursday as that of Brian Laundrie.
According to the FBI, the remains were found alongside personal items, such as a backpack and a notebook, belonging to Laundrie. “These items were found in an area that up until recently, had been under water, “Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa office said Wednesday.
Laundrie’s parents wanted to assist in the search and helped lead the FBI and North Port police to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, according to Steven Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family.
Although Laundrie had been named a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance, he had never been criminally charged in her murder. A federal grand jury in Wyoming indicted him on Sept. 23 on a single count of fraudulently using her bank debit card.
Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito lived with Laundrie’s parent in North Port on Florida’s west coast, before they embarked on their cross-country “van life” road trip in early July from New York’s Long Island, where they both had attended high school.
As they traveled westward through Kansas, Colorado, and Utah, going westward across the country, Petito documented their trip on social media with videos and pictures that depicted a loving couple on an American adventure.
Surprisingly, Brian Laundrie returned to his parents’ North Port home without Gabby on September 1, authorities have said.
Petito’s disappearance in late August, during the cross-country road trip with Laundrie was followed closely by Americans as the case became an internet sensation and then a tabloid mystery. During the search for the missing 22-year-old Petito, police in Moab City, Utah, released body camera video capturing a distraught Petito after an alleged physical altercation with Laundrie.
Petito’s body was discovered September 19 at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Petito had been dead for at least three weeks and her death was ruled a homicide by “manual strangulation,” the coroner said.
Brian Laundrie, 23, had been missing since med-September when his parents said he went hiking in the Carlton Reserve and never returned. The 25,000-acre wildlife refuge was closed for extensive searches of the area and only reopened on Tuesday.
The resulting deaths of both Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito may remain an unsolved internet tabloid mystery for all who were so intently following their “van life” adventure.