The FBI in Tampa confirmed Wednesday afternoon that investigators found “what appear to be human remains” near a backpack and other items belonging to fugitive Brian Laundrie in an environmental park north of his home in North Port, Florida.
“These items were found in an area that up until recently had been under water,” said Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI Tampa division. “Our evidence response team is on the scene using all available forensic resources to process the area. It’s likely the team will be on the scene for several days.”
The other personal items found included a notebook that belonged to Laundrie, the former Blue Point resident who is a person of interest in the murder of his girlfriend Gabby Petito, 22, a native of Blue Point whose mom, stepdad and siblings still reside in the hamlet.
“We don’t have all the answers yet. We’re working dilligently to get those answers for you,” McPherson said during a brief press conference, before abruptly walking from the podium without answering questions from the news media.
Onlookers near the press gallery shouted “Justice for Gabby! Justice for Gabby!” as the authorities walked away from the crowd.
The apparent human remains and personal items of Laundrie, 23, were found in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. The FBI, North Port Police and other law enforcement agencies have been searching the park and the adjacent Carlton Reserve for a over a month in their manhunt for Laundrie.
Earlier this month, the Teton County, Wyoming, coroner confirmed that she died of strangulation — and that she had been deceased for at least three weeks before her remains were found.
On Sept. 1, Laundrie drove back home to Florida in the van — without Petito. For the last two years, the couple had lived with Laundrie’s parents Roberta and Chris, after moving from Blue Point to North Port, Florida. Petito and Laundrie had dated for two years, and at one point were engaged.
Police have been searching for Laundrie since he disappeared days before his girlfriend’s remains were found thousands of miles away.
Gabby was officially reported missing on Sept. 11, but her family had not heard from her since Aug. 25. Her disappearance, and now her murder, has drawn the attention of the nation and much of the world.
The free spirited Long Islander was carefully documenting her travels with Laundrie in seemingly fun-loving social media posts from out west in Utah and Wyoming. Her pose in front of a wall mural with a pair of giant angel wings has become iconic, inspiring mural memorials to her in Florida and New York.
Myakkahatchee Creek Environment Park and Carlton Reserve will remain closed to the public until further notice, authorities said.
“This is an active and ongoing investigation,” McPherson said. “We ask the public to maintain distance.”
Image above: Instagram/@gabspetito