Brian Laundrie: FBI confirms remains found in Florida are missing fugitive

Announcement came 38 days after Gabby Petito’s fiance last seen by parents

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Friday 22 October 2021 13:31 BST
Suspected Human Remains Found in a Florida Park Are Likely Brian Laundrie’s, Family Attorn
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The FBI has confirmed that the human remains found in a Florida nature reserve are those of missing fugitive Brian Laundrie.

Investigators confirmed the identification of Mr Laundrie’s skeletal remains the day after they were discovered at the Carlton Reserve near his backpack, notebook and items of clothing.

Law enforcement officials say that the identification was carried out using dental records and the announcement came 38 days after Gabby Petito’s fiance was reportedly last seen by his parents.

Brian Laundrie - update: FBI identifies remains as fugitive’s family ‘not doing interviews’, says attorney

“On 21 October, 2021, a comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at the T Mabry Carlton, Jr Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are those of Brian Laundrie,” tweeted the FBI’s Denver office.

Petito’s family acknowledged the development shortly after it was announced.

“Gabby’s family is not doing interviews or making a statement at this time,” said Petito-Schmidt family attorney Rick Stafford .

“They are grieving the loss of their beautiful daughter. Gabby’s family will make a statement at the appropriate time and when they are emotionally ready.”

The Laundrie family lawyer, Steve Bertolino, said that they had been told about the identification of their son’s body.

“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are are indeed Brian’s,” said Mr Bertolino in a statement.

“We have no further comment at this time and we ask you respect the Laundrie family’s privacy at this time.”

The remains were discovered on the same day that Laundrie’s parents made their first visit to the park since it was reopened.

Mr Bertolino told CNN that the area the remains were found in was the “very area of the park that we initially informed law enforcement on,” at their meeting with police on 17 September.

Earlier in the day North Port Police said human remains found at the Carlton reserve were definitely those of a human.

Police tape restricts access to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on October 20, 2021 in North Port, Florida.
Police tape restricts access to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on October 20, 2021 in North Port, Florida. (Getty Images)

“They are human remains, no doubt there. I would say that the remains were consistent with one individual, you know skeletal remains,” North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor told CNN.

Investigators also found clothing believed to belong to Brian Laundrie.

“That was there as well. It’s consistent with what he was believed to be wearing,” added Mr Taylor.

During the Wednesday announcement that human remains had been found, law enforcement officials for the first time described Gabby’s death as a “murder”.

“As you’re aware, the FBI and the North Port Police Department and our state and local law enforcement partners have been searching the area of the Carlton Reserve for Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito,” FBI Tampa Division Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson said.

In September Laundrie was named by police as a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance.

A federal arrest warrant was also issued in Wyoming for his arrest, charging him with unauthorised use of a Capitol One bank debit card between 30 August and 1 September.

Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23, had spent the summer travelling across the western US in her white van, regularly posting pictures and videos of their “van life” adventure to social media.

On 12 August police in Moab, Utah, encountered the couple after a passerby reported a physical altercation between them.

Despite the fight, “both the male and female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” stated a report from officer Eric Pratt.

The officers suggested that the couple split up for the night and described Petito as “confused and emotional”.

The police department has been widely criticised for its handling of the reported domestic violence incident and city officials have opened a review into it.

But Petito’s postings stopped suddenly in August and Laundrie returned to his family’s home in Florida without her on 1 September.

When Petito’s family were unable to contact her they reported her missing 10 days later, as Laundrie refused to cooperate with investigators.

He then went missing himself, with his family saying they believed he had gone to the nature reserve, where his remains were eventually found.

Petito’s remains were discovered in a remote Wyoming national forest on 19 September, where they had last been seen together.

Several days after that, Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue ruled her death a homicide and announced she had died by manual strangulation.

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