Unidentified human remains have been found near personal belongings of Brian Laundrie, the missing fiancé of the late YouTube star Gabby Petito, in a Florida Park.
In a press conference on Wednesday, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson said the apparent remains were found near Brian’s backpack and notebook in the Carlton Reserve in an area that was previously underwater.
He said the evidence response team will continue to investigate and process the area in the coming days, adding: “I know you have a lot of questions, but we don’t have all the answers yet. We are working diligently to get those answers for you.”
The scene is about five miles from the home Brian and Gabby shared with Brian’s parents – who directed FBI agents to the location, according to their lawyer.
Brian, who was named a person of interest in his fiancée’s disappearance, was reported missing by his parents about five weeks ago.
Gabby and Brian had recently quit their jobs to travel across the United States in a van, vlogging their adventures for their YouTube channel.
But just weeks later, Brian returned home to Florida in the white van without his wife-to-be and ten days later, Gabby’s family in New York reported her missing.
The body of the 22-year-old was found at a forest in Wyoming on September 19.
According to a local coroner, Gabby was killed by strangulation about three to four weeks before her body was found.
Shortly before her disappearance, Gabby and Brian were pulled over by police in Moab, Utah, following reports of a domestic dispute.
In a 911 audio recording provided by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, a caller claimed they were driving by a white van with a Florida license plate when they saw “the gentleman was slapping the girl”.
The caller explained: “Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off.”
Moab Police Department Chief Bret Edge said his officers responded to the incident, located the van and pulled the couple over.
The police released the bodycam footage of the traffic stop, which showed Gabby crying in the van before being asked to step out of it.
When asked by police why she was crying, the 22-year-old said: “I’m just crying because we’ve been fighting this morning. Just personal issues.”
Gabby also admitted to slapping her fiancé, who had scratches on his face, but insisted she didn’t mean to harm him.
According to the police report, the couple stated that Brian did not hit Gabby.
Chief Bret Edge said: “Insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges.”
The police officers on scene suggested that the couple spend the night apart, organising a hotel room for Brian and advising Gabby – who the report describes as “confused and emotional” – to spend the night in the van. It is understood the couple did so.
Brian, who had refused to talk to North Port police on the advice of his lawyer, has not been seen since September 14, when his parents later said he told them he was going for a hike in the nearby Carlton Reserve wilderness area.
Police and FBI agents, using divers, tracking dogs and helicopters, searched the swampy, alligator-infested wilderness area for weeks searching for Brian to no avail.
On September 23, a federal grand jury in Wyoming indicted Brian on a charge of fraudulently using Gabby’s bank debit card between August 30 and September 1 to spend $1,000 or more.
Brian has not been charged in Gabby’s death.