- Authorities said they found human remains that appear to be Gabby Petito after combing through a camping area in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.
- Petito, 22, a blogger, went missing while on a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23.
- The case has fueled national intrigue and a cross-country effort to solve the complex mystery.
Federal authorities have discovered the remains of a body they believe to be Gabby Petito, 22, a blogger whose mysterious disappearance has fueled national intrigue and a cross-country effort to solve the complex and increasingly bizarre case.
The FBI made the announcement Sunday afternoon, explaining law enforcement had combed through a camping area in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest and found human remains that appear to bePetito. Authorities will conduct a full forensic review to verify the remains, according to Charles Jones, a special agent with the FBI’s Denver office.
“I would like to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family,” Jones said. “As every parent can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult time.”
Petito went missing while on a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23. She was last seen in Grand Teton National Park in late August. Laundrie returned home alone on Sept. 1 from the couple’s weekslong trip, only to disappear himself last week.
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, last reported speaking with her daughter on Aug. 25, and the family filed a missing person’s report Sept. 11. The FBI in Denver said agents conducted ground surveys at Grand Teton National Park with help from the National Park Service and law enforcement agencies, seeking clues to Petito’s disappearance.
The couple set out in July from Long Island, New York, where they had been high school sweethearts, in a Ford Transit van, according to their social media accounts. They planned to reach Oregon by the end of October. Before the trip, they lived with Laundrie’s parents, who moved to North Port, Florida, in recent years.
After Laundrie returned to Florida alone, he refused to talk with authorities and instead hired a lawyer, who advised him to remain silent.
What happened to Gabby Petito:Mystery prompts vast searches; social media sleuths hunt for clues
Authorities have released information showing the couple got into a fight during their cross-country trip. A witness reported a potential domestic violence incident in August in Moab, Utah, and police were called.
Body camera footage shows Petito in tears when an officer responded on the side of a highway near Arches National Park. Laundrie told an officer that Petito slapped him after friction had been building between them for several days. The officer wrote that the two had been traveling together for several months, and the closeness created an “emotional strain” leading to more arguments.
Laundrie told an officer that he and Petito both suffered from the same mental health problem. The police report redacted specific information on the condition.
Officers in the video told the couple to sleep in separate places for the night so they could “reset their mental states without interference from one another.”
“I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis,” the officer concluded in the report.
Meanwhile, law enforcement on Sunday resumed their search for Laundrie. His family reported him missing and say he was last seen in the Carlton Reserve, a nearly 25,000 acre wildlife reserve in Florida.
Gabby Petito updates:FBI now searching for Brian Laundrie, fiancé of missing Gabby Petito
Laundrie and his family had declined to discuss Petito’s case with police – until Friday, when family members filed a missing person report for Laundrie, North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, part of the USA TODAY Network.
“It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime,” North Port police said in a statement.
The family said they believe Laundrie went to the reserve earlier in the week. North Port police, the FBI and other agencies are conducting a search of the Sarasota County reserve.
Authorities used drones, scent-sniffing dogs and all-terrain vehicles. Investigators took some of his clothing from his parents’ home to provide a scent for the search dogs.
The twists and turns of the case have intrigued the country, including on social media.
On TikTok, the hashtag #gabbypetito has gained more than 275 million views, and many creators share updates — often of unconfirmed reports, screenshots of texts from amateur sleuths about their theories and their own feelings about the case.
Protesters also were a fixture outside Laundrie’s family home in North Port. A crowd had grown over the days, yelling, “Where’s Gabby?”
Contributing: Christine Fernando, John Bacon and Alex Connor, USA TODAY; Samantha Gholar Weires, Sarasota Herald-Tribune