Brian Laundrie’s remains have been confirmed. Dental records from the remains discovered Wednesday in a Florida park made the identification official, the FBI said Thursday, Oct. 21.
Laundrie, 23, had been a person of interest in the death of his fiancée, Gabby Petito.
Thursday’s announcement was a mere formality after the remains were found alongside several of Laundrie’s personal items in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park near Laundrie’s home in North Port, Florida.
No cause of death was announced. A coroner was on the scene Wednesday.
Chris and Roberta Laundrie, Brian’s parents, told police earlier this week that they were headed to the park to search for their son. Officers followed them on the trip, which quickly led to multiple items, including a backpack and a notebook, that belonged to Brian. The trail near the remains was reportedly one of Brian Laundrie’s favorites.
Parts of the Carlton Nature Preserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park remain closed as authorities process forensic evidence from the area.
Laundrie and Petito, a 22-year-old native of Blue Point, New York, went on a cross-country trip in August, which Petito chronicled online.
During that trip, the two fought at least once, as seen on bodycam footage from police in Moab, Utah, about eight hours of driving and 500 miles south of where Petito’s body was later found.
“Well, he grabbed my face,” Petito told the cops Aug. 12 while crying and holding her jaw, though she insisted Laundrie did not hit or punch her. “He grabbed me with his nail, and I guess this is why I definitely have a cut right here because I can feel it when I touch it. It burns.”
Officers brushed off the incident as a mental health crisis, not a domestic assault, and the trip continued.
But Petito’s online posts abruptly stopped near the end of the month, and Laundrie returned alone to his North Port home, about 60 miles south of Tampa, on Sept. 1. Petito’s parents reported her missing Sept. 11.
Despite the circumstantial evidence, Laundrie was never charged — or even declared a suspect — in Petito’s death, remaining a person of interest until his own death was confirmed Thursday.
With Petito still missing Sept. 14, Laundrie left his home in North Port and his parents reported him missing days later. Authorities immediately focused their search on the Carlton Reserve, but with 25,565 acres to cover, they had little luck until Wednesday.
In the meantime, the case went global, with a TikTok user claiming to spot Laundrie in Canada and celebrity searcher Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman joining the hunt.
Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 in Grand Teton National Park in northwest Wyoming. She died from homicide by strangulation, the county coroner said, estimating that her body was outside for three to four weeks before it was discovered.
Though he was never charged with Petito’s death, Laundrie was charged Sept. 23 with bank card fraud in Wyoming. He was accused of withdrawing $1,000 on a Capital One card belonging to Petito.
Petito’s funeral was held Sept. 26 on Long Island.
“She was always willing to help someone else,” her friend Lexi Ruiz said. “She was just such a light. Anywhere she went the room lit up.”
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