The FBI confirmed Thursday that it had found the remains of Brian Laundrie, the 23-year-old fiancé of Gabby Petito and the only person of interest in her death.
In a statement, the FBI’s Denver field office, which has been leading the investigation, said that a comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at Carlton Reserve and the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Sarasota County, Fla., Wednesday were those of Laundrie.
Steven Bertolino, an attorney for Laundrie’s parents, said that police came to their North Port, Fla., home late Thursday afternoon to notify them.
The remains, as well as a backpack and notebook belonging to Laundrie, were found Wednesday along a trail in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. The park is adjacent to the 24,565-acre Carlton Reserve, where Laundrie’s parents told police they believed he was headed when they reported him missing last month.
Bertolino said that Laundrie’s parents went to the park to search for their son on Wednesday morning, and met with North Port police and the FBI.
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie went to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park this morning to search for Brian,” Bertolino said in a statement. “After a brief search of a trail that Brian frequented, some articles belonging to Brian were found.”
The remains were found in an area that was until recently was under water, the FBI said. The Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office and a cadaver dog from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office were called in to assist in the investigation.
Earlier Thursday, NBC News reported that the remains were “skeletal” and included part of a human skull.
Laundrie’s parents reported him missing on Sept. 17, two days before Petito’s body was found near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
An autopsy was conducted by the Teton County Coroner’s Office, which concluded that the 22-year-old’s death was homicide caused by strangulation.
The case has garnered widespread national media attention — as well as criticism of news outlets for not covering similar cases involving people of color.
It has also drawn intense interest on social media, with online sleuths scouring the couple’s Instagram posts for potential clues.
There had been unconfirmed sightings of Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail, in Canada and in Mexico. TV personalities, including Duane Chapman — known as Dog the Bounty Hunter — and longtime “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh, had joined in the search.
Petito and Laundrie had spent months visiting national parks in their converted 2012 Ford Transit van, documenting the trip on social media.
The couple was stopped Aug. 12 by police in Moab, Utah, after they had a physical altercation, but no charges were filed.
On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to the couple’s North Port home, where they lived with Laundrie’s parents — without her. Petito’s parents, who live on Long Island, said they lost contact with her in late August and reported her missing on Sept. 11.
Petito’s family has issued public pleas for Laundrie’s parents to cooperate with authorities. Police say the Laundries initially did not share “any helpful details” in the search for Petito or their son.
In an interview with “60 Minutes Australia” that aired this past weekend, Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, said their “silence speaks volumes.”
Additional reporting by Christopher Wilson.
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