Gabby Petito case: Remains found during Brian Laundrie search were ‘bones’

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Brian Laundrie (Credit: Moab Police Department)

NORTH PORT, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — The remains found in a Florida reserve during the search for Brian Laundrie were skeletal remains, law enforcement sources confirmed to NewsNation.

The remains will likely not be identified Thursday, a medical examiner confirmed to NewsNation’s Brian Entin.

Personal items, including a backpack and a notebook believed to belong to Brian Laundrie, were also found in the 24,000-acre reserve.

The items and remains were found in a swampy area — home to alligators, snakes, coyotes and other wildlife — that had previously been underwater, according to Michael McPherson, chief of the Tampa FBI office.

A medical examiner told NewsNation’s Brian Entin on Wednesday evening that it could be one to two days before they identify the remains.

“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 Dr. Priya Banerjee on “Morning in America”. “We’re now thinking it might be Mr. Laundrie, but again, it’s very, very speculative at this point.”

The remains were discovered when Christopher and Roberta Laundrie went to the reserve with police Wednesday to search for their son.

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 I can say is that NPPD met the family at the park yesterday. We did not want them out there without our view. So we followed them around. Together at some times and within a few hundred feet at others. We are 100% confident the family did not bring any items, which were found yesterday, with them. We’ve been saying “odd” from the beginning, so nothing new there. The family did not locate or see the remains. The remains and items had clearly been there for some time.

North port police

The Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino told Entin his clients called him Tuesday and said they wanted to search the reserve since it was back open to the public. Bertolino says he called police and told them the Laundries would be at the reserve at 7 a.m. Wednesday. He says police met them there.

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 Chris 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.

It had been weeks since any firm new details emerged in the case as authorities searched for the boyfriend of Gabby Petito. Brian Laundrie’s parents say they last saw him Sept. 13, when they said he drove to the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve. He was reported missing Sept. 17.

The Carlton Reserve connects to the 160-acre Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which is a heavily wooded area near an interstate freeway. North Port police said the remains were about a 45-minute hike north into the Carlton Reserve.

Petito, 22, vanished while on a cross-country road trip with Brian 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 is a person of interest in Petito’s death.

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The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie. He is wanted for “use of unauthorized access device” related to his activities following Petito’s death. The FBI says he used a debit card and a PIN to access two bank accounts Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.

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