NORTH PORT, Fla. (CN) — The monthlong search for Brian Laundrie, the 23-year-old sought in connection with the murder of his girlfriend Gabby Petito, ended on Thursday after the FBI confirmed skeletal remains found in a Florida nature preserve were his.
A day earlier, investigators found a backpack and notebook belonging to Laundrie next to human remains at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Sarasota County. In a written statement released this afternoon, the FBI’s Denver office said a comparison of dental records show the remains belong to Laundrie.
The park had been closed to the public for several weeks until Wednesday. That morning, Laundrie’s parents went to the park to look for their son along with the FBI and North Port police. The area where Laundrie’s remains and belongings were found was previously covered by water.
The Laundries’ family attorney Chris Bertolino also confirmed the FBI’s identification.
“We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundrie’s privacy at this time,” Bertolino said in a statement to the Associated Press.
The discovery wraps up part of the saga that began with Laundrie and Petito embarking on a cross-country trip in July.
On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to Florida without Petito. Days after Petito’s parents reported her missing on Sept. 11, Laundrie went for a hike in the Carlton Reserve, a swampy wooded area covering several thousand acres near Sarasota, connected to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
The body of Petito, 22, was found on Sept. 19 in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. A coroner later determined she was strangled.
Laundrie was not officially charged in her death; the FBI named him a person of interest. The agency did, however, issue an arrest warrant alleging his unauthorized use of a debit card between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.
FBI, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and North Port police began searching the Carlton Reserve soon after Laundrie’s parents reported him missing, but the search was hampered by heavy rains and waist-deep water filled with alligators and snakes.
Thursday morning, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno described the hurdles of investigators who combed the wooded area.
“Today, when I walked back there, I got to see the treacherous conditions that they were working under,” Marceno told reporters at the entrance to the park. “We’re talking about water levels up around the chest area. We’re talking about rattlesankes, moccasins, alligators.”
“While we can’t change the outcome, we can bring justice,” he added.
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