What We Know About Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito’s Deaths

Laundrie was the sole person of interest in the death of his fiancée, 22-year-old Gabby Petito.
October 22, 2021, 5:10pm
Supporters of "Justice for Gabby" gathered at the entrance of Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port Florida on Wednesday October 20, 2021. (Thomas O'Neill/NurPhoto via AP)​
Supporters of "Justice for Gabby" gathered at the entrance of Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port Florida on Wednesday October 20, 2021. (Thomas O'Neill/NurPhoto via AP)

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed Thursday that remains found at a Florida nature park belonged to Brian Laundrie, the 23-year-old who was a person of interest in the death of his fiancée, 22-year-old Gabby Petito. But many questions remain about the circumstances of Laundrie’s death and his involvement in Petito’s homicide. 

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Laundrie’s belongings and remains were discovered Wednesday, partially with the help of his parents. They assisted in the search after the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port, the town where Laundrie and Petito lived, was reopened to the public Wednesday. 

The FBI’s Denver office said Thursday that it had confirmed the remains found at the Florida park were Laundrie’s through an examination of dental records. Earlier, North Port police told CNN that the “skeletal” remains found were “consistent with one individual.”

Laundrie was the sole person of interest in Petito’s death. And now that his death has been confirmed, it’s likely to further complicate the investigation into who killed Petito and why.

A cause of death has not been determined. In an email to VICE News Friday, the FBI’s Denver office declined to comment on the next steps of the investigation into Petito’s homicide. 

Petito’s body was found on Sept. 19 in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. She was killed by strangulation and her body had been in the wilderness for approximately three to four weeks prior to its discovery, an autopsy found. In addition to being a person of interest in her homicide, Laundrie was wanted by the FBI for debit card fraud

Petito’s last communication with her family was in late August, indicating she was still out west on the cross-country road trip the couple embarked on this summer. But Laundrie returned to Florida on Sept. 1 without her, and later went camping with his parents at a beach in the Tampa area. He was first reported missing by his parents on Sept. 17. 

Along with his remains, investigators recovered personal items purportedly belonging to Laundrie, including a backpack, a notebook, and a dry bag, the latter of which was reportedly found by Laundrie’s father, Chris

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There are no details so far as to the contents of the notebook. A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that the notebook was wet but “possibly salvageable.” 

“The notebook to my understanding has not been opened,” North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor told CNN. “You know, that will need to be processed.”

The Petito case has drawn international attention, as well as amateur sleuthing driven largely by TikTok. It’s also sparked a national conversation about murdered and missing women, and whose cases are prioritized by law enforcement and the media. 

An attorney for Petito’s family told CNN Thursday that they’re “grieving the loss of their beautiful daughter,” and would talk to the media “at the appropriate time and when they are emotionally ready."

There have been protests for weeks outside of the home of Laundrie’s parents, where Petito and Brian Laundrie lived. Following the press conference where authorities announced they had recovered human remains, a crowd broke out into chants of “Justice for Gabby.” 

After Laundrie’s remains were identified, Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family’s attorney, vented about the protests during an interview with NewsNation on Thursday

“They're extremely upset, and for some unknown reason there are still people outside of their home and causing a ruckus,” Bertolino said. “Which any parent grieving the loss of a child should not have to deal with.”