A month after searchers found homicide victim Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito’s body next to Spread Creek in Jackson Hole, human remains were found on Wednesday morning near Myakkahatchee Creek in Florida where law enforcement agencies have been looking for her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.
Also found were personal items, including a backpack and notebook believed to belong to Laundrie, 23.
“These items were found in an area that up until recently had been underwater,” FBI Tampa Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
They were located in the 160-acre Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, a heavily wooded nature preserve, which is connected to the Carlton Preserve in North Port.
The FBI did not confirm the identity of the remains and said forensics teams would be investigating the scene for several days.
“I know you have a lot of questions, but we don’t have all the answers yet,” McPherson said. “We are working diligently to get those answers for you.”
Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, had taken part in the search on Wednesday in conjunction with the FBI and police officers from North Port.
“After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented some articles belonging to Brian were found,” the Laundries’ attorney, Steven Bertolino, said in a text to The Associated Press. “As of now law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of that area.”
Laundrie is a person of interest in the homicide of 22-year-old Petito, whose parents reported her missing Sept. 11 after they were unable to contact her while she was on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie out West.
Laundrie is also charged in a Wyoming grand jury indictment with unauthorized use of a debit card. The U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued the federal arrest warrant on Sept. 22, alleging that Laundrie used a Capital One Bank card to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000; Laundrie’s lawyer confirmed to national media that the card in question was Petito’s.
The case has drawn considerable publicity as people across the internet sought clues to the pair’s paths of travel, originally in hopes of finding Petito and, more recently, to find Laundrie and answers regarding Petito’s death.
Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 near the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, just east of Grand Teton National Park. A team of searchers from the FBI, Jackson Police Department, Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and Teton County Search and Rescue joined in the on-the-ground searches where Petito’s Ford Transit van had been seen.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue concluded that Petito died of manual strangulation and that her death had occurred about three or four weeks prior to when her body was found.
Petito’s family last talked to her on Aug. 25, when the vanlifer and blogger told her mother that she was in Grand Teton National Park and would be heading to Yellowstone. The last publicly reported sighting of Petito alive was Aug. 27 at Merry Piglets restaurant in Jackson.
Laundrie returned home to Florida alone Sept. 1 in Petito’s van. He was reported missing after telling his parents on Sept. 13 or 14 that he was going for a hike in the Carlton Reserve, a vast nature preserve in Sarasota County. The preserve has for weeks been a key area in the search for Laundrie.
The activity Wednesday was focused on the nearby Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, where television news reports showed numerous law enforcement vehicles arriving and a tent set up in the woods. The location is also where a Ford Mustang that Laundrie drove to the wilderness was found.
As the FBI concluded its press conference announcing the new findings, a handful of onlookers held signs and chanted, “Justice for Gabby.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.