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Human remains have been found in the Florida reserve where items belonging to Brian Laundrie were discovered by his parents just hours earlier.
“Earlier today, investigators found what appears to be human remains along with personal items such as a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie,” FBI Tampa Division Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson announced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference, held at the entrance to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port. The park connects to the Carlton Reserve, where Laundrie was last known to be in mid-September.
“These items were found in an area that up until recently have been underwater,” he said. “Our evidence response team is on scene using all available resources to process the area.”
McPherson said it’s likely that they will be on scene for a few days. He did not take any questions. He said they are working “diligently” to get answers to the “complex” investigation. As he concluded the brief announcement, a group of people in the crowd began chanting “Justice for Gabby.”
Just hours prior, Laundrie’s parents Chris and Roberta Laundrie went to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park to search for their son, Steven Bertolino, the lawyer for the Laundrie family, told Oxygen.com via text.
“The FBI and NPPD [North Port Police Department] were informed last night of Brian’s parents’ intentions and they met Chris and Roberta there this morning,” he stated on Wednesday morning. “After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented some articles belonging to Brian were found. As of now law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of that area.”
Bertolino declined to comment on the discovery of the apparent human remains.
The Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed to local outlet WFLA on Wednesday that North Port police had asked them to report to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental on Wednesday morning. Amanda Hunter, public information officer for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department told Oxygen.com via email that they had a “human remains detection K9 team assisting” on the scene.
The North Port police department has previously described the terrain at the scene as “gator- and snake-infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails." They made it clear they were hoping for some of the water levels to go down to make searching less difficult.
Laundrie, who is reputed to be a skilled outdoorsman, has been missing since mid-September after his parents say he went for a hike in the reserve. Since then, that area has been searched multiple times on foot, by air and through swampy water. He has been named a person of interest in the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito. The couple were in the midst of a cross-country trip when she went missing in late August. He returned to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida without Petito at the beginning of September.
Weeks later, on Sept. 19, her remains were found in Wyoming and an autopsy revealed that the 22-year-old travel blogger had been strangled to death. She had likely been killed three to four weeks prior, according to the coroner's report.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie’s arrest last month for the unauthorized use of a debit or credit card following Petito’s disappearance.
"The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies and Social Media" will air on Oxygen on Monday, January 24 at 9/8c. It's also available to stream on Peacock now.
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