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Apparent human remains found in search for Brian Laundrie in Florida, FBI says

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:46 AM MST|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 1:44 PM MST
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NORTH PORT, Fla. (Gray News) - Investigators found what appeared to be human remains during a search for Brian Laundrie, along with personal items of his, an FBI spokesman said Wednesday.

Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Tampa office, said during a news conference that a backpack and notebook that belonged to Laundrie had been discovered among the items in Myakkahatchee Park near the Carlton Reserve, where a search has focused for weeks. The missing 23-year-old was Gabby Petito’s boyfriend and is a person of interest in her death.

“These items were found in an area that, up until recently, had been underwater,” McPherson said.

There has not yet been a positive identification of the remains.

An evidence response team is working at the scene to process the area, and they will likely be working on it for several days, McPherson said. Officials took no questions after the statement.

Staff from the Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office arrived at the site earlier in the day. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said a cadaver dog was at the site as well, CNN reported.

Aerial views of the scene showed officials had set up a large tent covering over the area. The FBI office in Tampa previously said on Twitter that “items of interest” in connection with the search had been found.

Attorney Stephen Bertolino, who represents the Laundrie family, said to WWSB that Chris and Roberta Laundrie, Brian Laundrie’s parents, returned to Myakkahatchee Park early Wednesday morning to help search for their son. FBI agents and North Port police returned to the scene, after reopening the park to the public Tuesday.

The park had been closed as federal agents continued their search.

“The FBI and NPPD were informed last night of Brian’s parents’ intention, and they met Chris and Roberta there this morning,” Bertolino said to WWSB. “After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented, some articles belonging to Brian were found. As of now, law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of the area.”

Brian Laundrie faces charges alleging he used a Capital One Bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000. It does not say to whom the card belonged or what type of charges were made. He has not been charged in Petito’s death.

He returned to the home he shared with Petito and his parents Sept. 1 in the Ford van the couple took on a cross-country road trip, and she was reported missing 10 days later by her family, who had not heard from her since late August.

The couple was stopped Aug. 12 by police in Moab, Utah, after they had a physical altercation, but no charges were filed.

Petito’s body was discovered Sept. 19 in Grand Teton National Park. The local coroner said she died by strangulation.

She was 22 years old.

Brian Laundrie was reported missing Sept. 14 after his parents said he told them he was going for a hike in Carlton Reserve, a vast nature preserve in Sarasota County.

The case generated enormous public interest but also raised uncomfortable questions over the unequal attention given to the hundreds of cases of Native American and other minority women missing or murdered across the United States. Petito is white.

Copyright 2021 Gray Media Group, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.