Human Remains, And Items Belonging To Brian Laundrie, Were Found In A Florida Nature Park
Officials have been searching for Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the disappearance of his fiancé, Gabby Petito, for a month.
After a more than monthlong search for Brian Laundrie — Gabby Petito's fiancé, who was named a "person of interest" in her disappearance — officials on Wednesday said they have found human remains and several items belonging to him in a Florida nature park.
Officials did not identify the remains but said their search of the area also resulted in investigators locating Laundrie's backpack and notebook.
The remains were found in Carlton Reserve, in a section that had recently been covered in water. The FBI's Tampa office said "items of interest" in connection to Laundrie had been also found in the same area.
A spokesperson for the medical examiner's office confirmed to BuzzFeed News that they had been "called to that location" but could not immediately say whether a body had been found.
In a briefing to reporters Wednesday, Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Tampa office, declined to answer any questions regarding the discovery.
"I know you have a lot of questions, but we don't have all the answers yet," he said.
Laundrie's whereabouts had been a mystery for over a month. Officials had been searching for him in connection to the disappearance of 22-year-old Petito, who was found dead of strangulation at a Wyoming campground on Sept. 19. He was named as a person of interest and was also indicted with a federal crime, the "use of unauthorized device" — a debit card — days after her death.
Laundrie returned alone to his family's home in North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1 after traveling with Petito in the van they'd taken on a cross-country road trip and chronicled on Instagram and YouTube.
Ten days later, Petito's family reported her missing. Police sought for nearly a week to interview Laundrie, believing he was still at home, but did not hear from his family until he disappeared. Officials searched the Carlton Reserve area for several weeks after Laundrie's parents told police he'd said he was going hiking there.
Richard Stafford, an attorney representing the Petito family, previously told CNN, "All of Gabby's family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing."
Petito's disappearance and death became something of an obsession among true crime fans on TikTok, with many amateur sleuths attempting to solve the case but at times pushing conspiracy theories and blatant misinformation.
The massive interest in the case has been criticized as yet another example of "missing white woman syndrome," the phenomenon in which the disappearances of white — and often attractive and young — women are met with outsize attention, while the far more frequent disappearances of women of color rarely make headlines.