On Monday morning, FBI investigators surrounded and entered Laundrie’s parents’ home in North Port as part of a “court-authorized search warrant” related to the Petito case. His parents were escorted from the home before the search and then were brought back inside for questioning, police said.
Petito and Laundrie had been road-tripping in a white van through the American West this summer, all while regularly posting photos and stories to their social media pages with the hashtag #vanlife.
Those posts abruptly stopped in late August, though. Laundrie returned to his home in North Port, Florida, with their van but without Petito on September 1, according to police. Petito’s family, unable to get in touch with her, reported her missing on September 11.
The discovery of human remains on Sunday came as authorities conducted a search around the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Bridger-Teton National Forest on the eastern edge of Grand Teton National Park, officials said. Dr. Brent Blue, the coroner of Teton County, Wyoming, told CNN an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.
Petito’s family has been notified of the discovery, though a full forensic identification will be needed to confirm it is her, said Charles Jones, FBI Denver’s supervisory senior resident agent in Wyoming. Authorities also need to identify the cause of death, he said.
Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino called the discovery of remains in Wyoming “heartbreaking,” adding: “The Laundrie family prays for Gabby and her family.”
Laundrie’s sister also issued a statement to ABC News praising Petito for her relationship with Laundrie’s nephews.
“Gabby was a fun and loving influence to ‘the boys’ as she always referred to them. We will cherish the time we spent with her,” Cassie Laundrie said in the statement.
The search for Laundrie
Laundrie, meanwhile, avoided authorities after returning home to Florida and has now gone missing.
Police visited the Laundrie family home after Petito was reported missing, but Laundrie’s family refused to talk and instead gave authorities their attorney’s information, police said last week.
The search effort included the use of drones and bloodhounds who used articles of Laundrie’s clothing taken from his home to get his scent, Taylor said in a news conference at the scene of the search Saturday. Police initially focused their search on a nearby park which spans about 200 acres before expanding to the rest of the reserve.
Laundrie is not wanted for a crime, officials have said. Still, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson said that could soon change as the investigation continues.
“One thing for sure: they’re focused on him, looking for him, and when they do find him, I expect he’ll be before a judge in short order,” he said.
Petito and Laundrie were on a road trip to national parks
The two began their road trip in June with a plan to visit state national parks across the western United States, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said last week.
She had been excited to share her journey with her family and others on social media, he said.
“She maintained regular contact with her family members during her travels, however that communication abruptly stopped around the end of August,” the police chief added.
Police had an encounter with the couple in Moab, Utah, on August 12, where officers described them as having “engaged in some sort of altercation.”
Although the two are described as getting into a physical fight following an argument, “both the male and female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” a report from officer Eric Pratt said.
At the suggestion by police, the couple separated for the night, the report said, which described Petito as “confused and emotional.”
“After evaluating the totality of the circumstances, I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis,” officer Daniel Robbins wrote in the police report. No charges were filed.
On August 24, Petito FaceTimed with her mother and told her she was leaving Utah and heading to the Teton range in Wyoming, Stafford said.
Over the next three days, Petito and her mother exchanged texts, he said. They received one last message on August 30 that read, “No service in Yosemite,” but her family doubts she wrote it, Stafford said.
CNN’s Travis Caldwell, Chris Cuomo, Aya Elamroussi, Rob Frehse, Deanna Hackney, Laura James, MiSeon Lee, Gregory Lemos, Christina Maxouris, Artemis Moshtaghian, Shawn Nottingham, Andy Rose, Leyla Santiago, Jenn Selva, Alta Spells and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.
FBI searches family home of Gabby Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie after her likely remains were found