UPDATED 2:39 PM PT – Wednesday, October 20, 2021
The FBI gave an update on the Brian Laundrie search, where police reportedly found partial human remains while searching for the fugitive.
The Sarasota County coroner and a cadaver dog were sent to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which is part of the Carlton Nature Reserve where several items were found earlier in the day. The FBI has confirmed the items, a backpack and notebook, do belong to Laundrie.
Officials said the items were found in an area that until recently, had been underwater. Laundrie is the only person of interest in the death of his former fiancé, Gabby Petito.
Petito was found dead in mid-September following their cross country van trip together. However, Laundrie returned home without her and has been missing ever since.
Officials said they would likely be searching the park for the next couple of days, stressing this is an ongoing investigation.
Meanwhile, a Wyoming coroner released the autopsy results regarding Gabby Petito’s cause of death last Tuesday. Teton County coroner Brent Blue made the announcement, noting her cause of death was manual strangulation. This means it was done not with a ligature, but most likely with someone’s hands. This also means there could potentially be latent DNA that could help lead investigators to a suspect.
“In the matter of death of Gabrielle Venora Petito, we find the cause and manner to be, cause death by strangulation and manner is homicide,” Blue stated. “By Wyoming state statue, only the cause and manner of death can be released. The autopsy findings and photographs and that sort of material is not released by state statute.”
The coroner said officials came to that consensus after a full body cat-scan and evaluations by pathologists, anthropologists and toxicologists. Additionally, he estimates the strangulation took place three-to-four weeks before her body was found.
Meanwhile, Blue said Gabby’s family may soon be able to put her to rest. He confirmed that her remains have been returned to the mortuary, where her family can make plans.
Crews are still searching in Florida’s Carlton Nature Reserve for Laundrie who is wanted on bank fraud charges. The Laundrie family is facing immense scrutiny by the public after claims surfaced that they may know more about their missing son’s whereabouts than they are letting on.
According to the family’s lawyer, Steven Bertolino, Laundrie’s father will be assisting authorities in the massive manhunt to find his son after a request by law enforcement. Bertolino said Laundrie’s parents spent hours searching for their son on September 13, four days before he was reported missing. His parents still believe he’s somewhere in Sarasota County, Florida.
The sister of the fugitive, Cassie Laundrie, said she’s unsure if her parents are involved with the disappearance of her brother. Protesters appeared outside her home in recent weeks, where she then revealed her frustrations in regards to the case.
“I’m in the boat where I’m getting ignored by my family and thrown under the bus by my family’s attorney,” she stated.
Cassie said she still remains unsure if her parents helped Laundrie escape authorities. However, she did confirm he flew home to Florida on or before August 17. Cassie also said she and her husband have cooperated with the FBI in the matter.
Her remarks came after a Florida man claimed there was no doubt in his mind that he had spoken with the fiancé of Petito. According to reports, 53-year-old Dennis Davis said he encountered the man believed to be Laundrie on a deserted road near the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina. Davis said the “lost and dazed man” rambled about a fight with his girlfriend, then asked for directions to California using only back roads.
Relevant information may be submitted to the FBI at https://t.co/nfbjZhvx8N, 1-800-CALL-FBI or 303-629-7171. Photos & videos may be uploaded to: https://t.co/IyvCGBdIia.
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— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) September 23, 2021
The attorney for the Laundrie family confirmed the suspect and his parents went camping together nearly a week after he returned home without Petito. A public records request revealed Laundrie’s mother checked in at Fort de Soto Park in early September, which lies about 75 miles from the family’s home in North Port, Florida.
“We’re just hoping that through our tragedy with losing Gabby that, in the future, that some good can come out of it, that we can help other people that may be in a similar situation, reach out to these other organizations that do similar things and find out what’s missing,” expressed Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt. “What can we do to fill that void? What can we do to help people?”
Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, said they wanted his daughter’s name to remembered for something positive and not just for this tragedy. He said noted, “we can’t let her name be taken in vain.”
Authorities are now offering up to $30,000 in rewards for tips on Laundrie’s whereabouts as the search continues. Laundrie is the only person of interest in Petito’s murder.