An attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie — person of interest in the murder of his fiancée, Gabby Petito — said that the human remains discovered in a remote area of a Florida park likely belong to the missing 23-year-old.
Authorities deemed Petito’s death to be murder by strangulation after finding her body several weeks after her disappearance.
Laundrie disappeared in September after Petito’s body was a discovered in a Wyoming national park.
What are the details?
According to a report from CNN, attorney Steven Bertolino said that “the probability is strong that it is Brian’s remains” that were discovered on Wednesday evening at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida.
“It’s quite sad, as you can imagine as a parent, finding your son’s belongings alongside from the remains,” Bertolino said. “That’s got to be heartbreaking. And I can tell you that they are heartbroken.”
Laundrie’s parents — Chris and Roberta Laundrie — along with investigators found personal effects belonging to Laundrie including a backpack and notebook near human remains while searching the Carlton Reserve in North Port, Florida.
Chris and Roberta helped detect their son’s belongings in the park on Wednesday — a move their attorney said was mere “happenstance.”
“As they went further in, Chris ventured off the trail into the woods,” Bertolino described. “He was zigzagging in different areas, law enforcement was doing the same thing. And Roberta Laundrie was walking down the trail. At some point, Chris locates what’s called a dry bag. The dry bag is a white bag, laying in the woods, say 20 feet or so off the trail.”
According to Bertolino, the dry bag was in a patch of brambles, and Chris reportedly didn’t want to disturb the bag before law enforcement were able to see it.
Chris, however, reportedly could not find law enforcement and “didn’t want to leave the bag there with a news reporter standing nearby” so he picked it up and met up a short time later with authorities.
“[Law enforcement] looked at the contents of the bag,” Bertolino explained. “At that time, law enforcement officers showed him a picture on the phone of a backpack that law enforcement had located also nearby and also some distance off the trail.”
At that point, authorities told the Laundries that they also discovered remains near the backpack, and asked the two to leave the preserve.
By Thursday morning, K-9 units and off-road vehicles were seen entering the reserve for further investigation.
A medical examiner on Wednesday evening said that formal identification of the remains may take some time.
A source close to the investigation said that the remains “appear to have been there a while.”
“Based on the condition of the remains, it may take some time to officially identify [the body],” the source told CNN. “It is going to be a very thorough process with the medical examiner.”
The remains, according to local authorities, were reportedly discovered in an area that has been under water until recently.
The Laundries, according to the report, decided to visit the park to search for their son on Wednesday because it was the first time it was open to the public since the search for Laundrie began.
“The parents had assumed that the experts, the FBI and all the tracking teams they had would be able to locate Brian based upon the information that we had provided them to the specific areas and trails in the park that Brian liked to visit,” Bertolino said. “The park had been closed to the public. There was really no other reason for the Laundries to go search anywhere else.”
A Thursday report from the New York Post, which cited a search and rescue expert, explained that cadaver dogs could end up sniffing out more body parts at the park following the grisly discovery in the coming days and weeks.
Peace River K9 Search and Rescue president Michael Hadsell — who was not involved in the search for Laundrie — told the outlet that cadaver dogs may not initially have been able to detect any human remains due to parts of the reserve being under several feet of water.
“The problem is people don’t understand that dogs are not body finders, they are odor hunters,” Hadsell said.
“They chase the odor of human remains, and the problem is that there are times when odor is not making the best presentation.”
“In this case, the search conditions that they were in initially were really bad, so the probability was more in the 20 percent success rate because there was water in that area,” he added.
Hadsell explained that due to the location of the remains, other factors could prove to be challenges in finding what may be the full scope of the remains due to animals in the area.
“This is Florida, so there are a lot of critters out there that want to come out and eat you,” he explained. “A lot of these remains found in these wilderness areas are what we call ‘scattered remains’ because the critters have grabbed pieces of the body and have dragged them off. And that’s what we spend a lot of time searching — the other parts.”
Hadsell added that if authorities don’t find complete remains soon, they may come back as the area continues to dry out.
“When animals come through there and they’re looking for something to eat, they see the body and that’s an easy meal,” he explained. “Oftentimes, these critters just grab a piece and walk off with it. … They put out a chart of the human skeleton, which serves like a map. Every time a bone comes in, they will identify it with that chart, and slowly they will be able to put the pieces together.”
Apparent Human Remains Found After Brian Laundrie’s Possessions Located In FL Park