FBI Confirms Death of Brian Laundrie

Remains were found in Florida nature reserve
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2021 8:41 AM CDT
Updated Oct 21, 2021 5:10 PM CDT
Family Attorney: 'Probability Is Strong' Remains Are Laundrie's
This Aug. 12, 2021, file photo from video shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park.   (The Moab City Police Department via AP, File)

(Newser) Update: The human remains discovered in a Florida wilderness park have been confirmed to be those of Brian Laundrie, who has been sought in the slaying of Gabby Petito for more than a month, FBI officials said Thursday. Dental records were used to make a positive identification, CNN reports. The family's attorney said Laundrie's parents have been informed. Our original story from earlier today follows:

It's becoming more likely by the hour that the monthlong search for Brian Laundrie, the fiance of Gabby Petito and person of interest in her murder, may soon come to a close. Items that authorities think belonged to Laundrie, including a backpack and notebook, were found Wednesday morning in a swampy area of Florida's Carlton Reserve, as well as "what appears to be human remains," per the FBI. Now, the Laundrie family attorney is weighing in. Steven Bertolino released a statement on behalf of his clients, noting Laundrie's parents were at the park when the items and remains were found, and that they would "wait for the forensic identification ... before making any additional comments," per WWSB. Bertolino himself, however, offered his own grim prediction on CNN. "The probability is strong that it is Brian's remains," he said, adding that Laundrie's parents "are heartbroken."

Bertolino says Chris and Roberta Laundrie joined the search at the reserve Wednesday because it was the first day in about a month that the park was open to the public since it had been shut down during the search for their son. Bertolino says during their visit to the park, Chris Laundrie found a white bag along a trail and picked it up to bring it to police, not wanting to leave it there with a nearby reporter. Police soon told the Laundries that a backpack and remains had also been found, and the Laundries were then asked to leave the park, Bertolino adds. A source close to the probe tells the news outlet that the remains "appear to have been there a while," and that it's likely going to take "some time" to ID them.

A forensic pathologist told Fox & Friends that he also believes the remains, which were found in an area that had apparently been submerged until recently, are likely Brian Laundrie's. "The difficult part will be the cause of death, depending on the environment," Dr. Michael Baden said, per Fox, noting that "insects, rodents, and alligators" all inhabit the park and may be tied to what happened. Meanwhile, a criminologist tells CNN that the notebook found on the scene may be a critical clue. "Did [Laundrie] take the time to write out a note of explanation, maybe even regret?" Casey Jordan says. "Something that would give answers—not only to the police, but to Gabby's family." Jordan adds that even if the notebook does offer insight into what happened to Petito, the public may never be told what's inside it. (Read more Brian Laundrie stories.)

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