The FBI’s Denver office said Thursday The remains, found a day earlier at a Florida nature reserve, belong to Brian Laundry, who disappeared days after his fiancée Gabby Pettito went missing last month.
The FBI said dental records confirmed the identity.
The identification came after police in North Port, Florida, said the remains found were skeletons and those of a human.
“They’re human remains, there’s no doubt about it. I would say the remains corresponded to a person, you know, skeletal remains,” North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor told CNN.
According to Taylor, investigators also found that the clothes corresponded to her when the laundry took off on September 13.
Less than a week after Laundry went missing last month, Wyoming officials found Pettito’s remains in a national forest. His death was ruled murder by strangulation by hand.
On Wednesday, investigators also found a backpack and a notebook belonging to the 23-year-old laundry near the remains as they searched the Carlton Reserve in North Port, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson.
Taylor said, “To my understanding the notebook hasn’t been opened. You know, it’s going to need to be processed.”
A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that the notebook “could possibly be salvaged.” The source said the notebook was “outside the dry bag”.
“It was obviously wet and they are going to use any possible means to dry it before opening it,” according to the source, who added: “They will be very careful with it.”
The source said it was not clear how the notebook ended up outside the dry bag.
When asked if any weapons were found, Taylor said he could not comment.
Asked if the search for Gabby Petito’s killer is ongoing, he replied, “It certainly isn’t within the scope of the North Port Police Department.”
According to Taylor, during a search with police, Brian’s father Chris Laundry was the first to spot an object belonging to his son.
Steven Bertolino, a lawyer for the Laundry family, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday that “the possibility is strong that it is Brian’s remains.”
The discovery occurred Wednesday morning when Laundry’s parents and law enforcement searched an area of the reserve that was underwater but had recently reopened to the public.
Bertolino told Cuomo, “It’s quite sad, you can imagine, as a parent, finding your son’s belongings with some remains. It’s heartbreaking. And I can tell you that.” His heart is broken.”
The search terms were too difficult
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said Thursday law enforcement was conducting searches in treacherous conditions, including nearly chest-high water filled with snakes and alligators.
“These are very, very difficult situations. You’re searching in areas you can’t walk and see. It’s not like you’re looking for a house or a car,” he said. “These areas are very large and they are covered with water.”
Laundry’s exhaustive search lasted more than a month as officials tried to piece together what happened to him and Petito during their road trip through the western US this summer.
Petito, 22, disappeared on the trip amid tensions in their relationship, and her remains were later found near the spot where the couple was last seen together.
Laundry, who himself had returned to his parents’ home in Florida, refused to speak to investigators and did not return after telling his parents that he was going to hike the nature reserve.
He was not charged in Pettito’s death, although he was charged with allegedly using two financial accounts that did not belong to him in the days following his murder.
Officers, including several K-9 units and off-road vehicles, returned to the reserve on Thursday morning to conduct further searches of the area.
Laundry’s parents were at the scene when the remains were found
Bertolino said Laundry’s family declined to speak publicly following legal advice, but had instructed officials that Laundry could remain in the reserve.
The parents – Chris and Roberta Laundry – joined the search on Wednesday morning and found a bag belonging to their son in the park, which their lawyer described as an “incident.”
According to Bertolino, Laundry’s parents informed the FBI and the North Port Police Department on Tuesday night that they wanted to go to the park Wednesday morning to look for their son.
Bertolino said law enforcement met him there and joined him as he entered the park.
“As they proceeded, Chris went off the trail in the woods. He was zigzagging in different areas, law enforcement doing the same thing. And Roberta was walking down the laundry trail,” Bertolino said. “At some point, Chris discovers what’s called a dry bag. The dry bag is a white bag, found 20 feet or more away in the woods.”
Bertolino said the dry bag was in some shacks and he didn’t want to move it because he wanted his law enforcement to see it. However, Chris Laundry couldn’t find law enforcement and didn’t want to leave the bag with a news reporter standing nearby, so he picked it up, Bertolino explained.
“He soon met with law enforcement, looking at the contents of the bag. At that point, law enforcement officers showed him a picture on the phone of a backpack that law enforcement also located nearby and some distance from the trail.” It was,” Bertolino told CNN.
“At that time, the laundries were informed that the backpack also had remains, and asked to leave them protected.”
Taylor said Wednesday that the remains were found “about 2 to 3 miles inside the Carlton Reserve, or about a 45-minute walk” from the entrance to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
Asked why the parents chose to visit the park on Wednesday, Bertolino said it was the first day it was reopened to the public.
“The parents assumed that experts, the FBI, and all of the tracking teams they had would be able to locate Brian, based on the information we provided him for specific areas and trails in the park where Brian was found. Loved to go,” said Bertolino. “The park was closed to the public. There was really no other reason for the laundries to search elsewhere.”