The FBI has officially named Brian Laundrie a person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito.
The announcement came after authorities on Wednesday said they had discovered partial human remains near what appeared to be some of Laundrie’s belongings at a Florida park and nature preserve.
“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 told reporters at a press conference.
McPherson’s language is important. Although investigators had previously named Laundrie a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance and her homicide, up until today Laundrie had not been explicitly named a person of interest in Petito’s murder.
Police on Wednesday reportedly located Laundrie’s backpack and notebook in the same area where the human remains were found, which had previously been underwater recently, WFLA-TV reports. The site is in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which is connected to the Carlton Reserve.
The Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office was dispatched to the scene, but no identification has been made yet on the remains, according to Fox News.
The park will be closed as an evidence response team further examines the scene, McPherson told reporters.
“I know you have a lot of questions, but we don’t have all the answers yet. we are working diligently to get those answers for you,” McPherson said, according to the television station.
Laundrie and Petito, who were reportedly engaged, traveled to the western United States over the summer on a road trip. But Laundrie returned alone to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida, on September 1. He refused to speak with police about Petito after her parents reported her missing.
On September 17, Laundrie’s parents told police that Brian had been missing for several days and that he allegedly had gone for a hike at the Carlton Reserve. He’s been missing ever since.
Authorities found Petito’s body on September 19 in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. She died from strangulation and had been deceased for several weeks before being located.
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