The FBI has recovered the remains of missing Florida native Brian Laundrie. However, questions in his case linger. In July, Laundrie, 23, and his fiance Gabby Petito, 22, took a road trip across the western United States. Their journey saw them visit state parks and other attractions, but there was trouble brewing in their relationship.
When Laundrie returned to his parent’s home in Florida on September 1, he was alone. Petito was nowhere to be found. Her once-active social media presence had gone completely cold. Weeks later, after an extensive search, investigators found her remains near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Laundrie was named a person of interest in the case, but he and his parents refused to cooperate with the authorities.
On September 14, Laundrie allegedly told his parents that he was leaving on a backpacking trip to a nature preserve near their home. He was declared missing three days later, and search parties scoured the wilderness for him throughout late September and into October. On Wednesday, October 20, with the help of his parents, police discovered Laundrie’s remains in the Carlton Reserve of Sarasota County.
Detectives were able to verify the identity of the body by cross-referencing the remains against the 23-year-old’s dental records.
The discovery of Laundrie’s remains brings few answers for Petito’s friends and family. A backpack and notebook were found near Laundrie’s body, and the FBI says that these could hold some clues about what happened during the couple’s trip in August. No details about their contents have been made public.
“I know you have a lot of questions, but we don’t have all the answers yet,” FBI Special Agent Michael McPherson told reporters in a press conference on Wednesday. “We are working diligently to get those answers for you.” McPherson took no questions during the event.
After Petito’s remains were found last month, her autopsy revealed that her death was caused by strangulation. The coroner, Dr. Brent Blue, determined that her death was likely a homicide. Some commentators online have speculated that Laundrie was directly involved in Petito’s death. Police have not charged him with a crime, though it is unclear if this was due to his status as a missing person.
Petito’s disappearance dominated national headlines in September, with internet sleuths attempting to piece together the timeline of events that led up to her disappearance. This interest largely centered on her social media presence, which chronicled the couple’s trip across the country. The blog entries, titled “Van Life,” include images from national parks and accounts from Petito.
The viral spread of the story met pushback from critics, too. Some have called the case another example of “missing white woman syndrome”. This refers to a perceived tendency that media outlets give disproportionate attention to missing person cases involving young white women.