NORTH PORT, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Brian Laundrie’s remains were found in a Florida reserve where authorities had been searching for him, the FBI confirmed.
Personal items, including a backpack and a notebook, believed to belong to Laundrie were also found nearby. Law enforcement sources confirmed to NewsNation Thursday that the remains found were skeletal remains or “bones.” The FBI announced they used dental records to confirm the match.
His girlfriend, 22-year-old Gabby Petito, vanished while on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie in a converted camper van. The trip was well-documented on social media until it abruptly ceased, allegedly somewhere in Wyoming.
Petito was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days. Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 just outside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. A Teton County coroner said earlier this month that Petito died by strangulation three to four weeks before her body was found.
Brian Laundrie was a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance.
The crime has gripped the country as internet detectives attempted to solve the case and started a national conversation about missing people in the U.S. Here’s what we know about the case going forward:
Where were the remains found?
The remains were found in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. The 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve connects to the 160-acre park, which is a heavily wooded area near an interstate freeway.
Authorities had been searching the area for the past month after Brian Laundrie’s parents say he drove to the Carlton Reserve on Sept. 13. He was reported missing Sept. 17.
Authorities closed the reserve to the public. They had reopened the park for the first time in a month Monday.
How were the remains found?
Steven Bertolino, attorney for the Laundrie family, said that Christopher and Roberta Laundrie told authorities they wanted to search the reserve since it was back open. The Laundries and the police began searching Wednesday morning.
While searching, Bertolino said Christopher Laundrie, Roberta Laundrie and two officers spread out on either side of a trail that Brian Laundrie liked to hike. He said Christopher Laundrie found a bag containing some of his son’s items and officers found the backpack on the other side of the trail, which was near the remains.
Christopher Laundrie previously helped in the search for his son two weeks ago.
The North Port police Thursday told NewsNation in a statement that they were 100% confident the Laundries did not bring anything with them to the reserve while searching for their son.
What else did they find?
Authorities found the human remains and multiple items that were believed to be Brian Laundrie’s, including a backpack and notebook.
Watch the full FBI press conference announcing the discovery of remains below:
When were the remains identified?
The FBI issued a statement saying dental records proved the remains were Laundrie’s. Initially, the medical examiner said the remains would likely not be identified Thursday.
“Knowing that the body’s not going to be in what I would call a normal condition, you know, decomposition, environmental effects, all of that has to have really damaged the remains,” said Banerjee.
What does “partial remains” mean?
“Partial remains is generally used to describe a body that is not fully intact,” said former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer.
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Why did law enforcement accompany brian Laundrie’s parents to the reserve?
“If the Laundrie parents went to the reserve by themselves and discovered evidence, law enforcement would never believe that. They would think the evidence was planted. They would think that they were in cahoots and it would look really bad for them,” said Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach County state attorney.
Why weren’t the remains found sooner?
The items that are believed to belong to Laundrie were discovered in an area that up until recently was underwater, according to the FBI Tampa.
“I think there were several factors leading up to this. First of all, the fact that the park was open. So it allowed people to go in it. It allowed the Laundries to go in,” said Coffindaffer. “Also, the fact of the waters receding. Another factor that is huge that we haven’t really discussed is this is the main area that has been looked at by law enforcement. This is the same area Chris Laundrie took law enforcement officers to in the past. This gives me pause.”
What is the Laundrie family saying?
Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, confirmed Thursday the remains were Brian Laundrie’s a short time before the FBI issued its statement. He asked for privacy for the Laundrie family.
Wednesday, he released a statement saying Brian Laundrie’s parents were at the Carlton Reserve when partial remains were found but will not comment further until the remains have been identified.
Chris and Roberta Laundrie were at the reserve earlier today when human remains and some of Brian’s possessions were located in an area where they had initially advised law enforcement that Brian may be. Chris and Roberta will wait for the forensic identification of the human remains before making any additional comments.Steven Bertolino, attorney for the Laundrie family
What is the Petito family saying?
Gabby Petito’s family did not speak publicly Wednesday following the news of partial human remains being discovered in the Carlton Reserve, and have not commented on the identification.
In Petito’s hometown of Blue Point, New York, a memorial for the 22-year-old continues to grow and the streets are lined with teal ribbons in Petito’s memory. Some residents of Blue Point told NewsNation’s Tom Negovan they hope the remains discovered are not those of Laundrie’s because that would deny them closure in Petito’s death.
Could Brian Laundrie’s parents be in legal trouble?
“It depends on what they know and what they knew,” said Aronberg, “It’s not enough that they remained silent or lawyered up or didn’t call the Petito family back, all of that stuff is not a crime. But if they actively tried to hide evidence, destroy evidence, sanitize the van, helped Brian escape. It’s also a crime if they lied to investigators — that would be the crime of obstruction of an investigation.”
When was Gabby Petito’s body found?
On Sept. 19, FBI Denver confirmed a body found in Wyoming is believed to be Petito. On Sept. 21, The Teton County coroner and FBI confirmed the body was that of Petito’s.
How did Gabby Petito die?
On Sept, 21, the Teton County coroner ruled Petito’s death a homicide. On Oct. 12, the coroner ruled she died by strangulation three-to-four weeks before her body was found.
When was Brian Laundrie last seen?
Brian Laundrie’s parents, through their attorney, said on Oct. 5 they believe the last time they saw Brian Laundrie was Sept. 13.
On Sept. 17, their attorney initially told the news media his parents last saw him Sept. 14.
When was Gabby Petito reported missing?
Petito was reported missing to Suffolk County Police in New York on Sept. 11, 2021.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.