Elect;Brian Laundrie: Medical examiner’s office called to Florida park officials searching, reports say

Medical examiner’s office staff are responding Wednesday to a site where officials have been searching for Brian Laundrie, according to multiple reports.

The Sarasota ME’s office was called to an area near the Carlton Reserve, where the search has continued for weeks, per ABC News reporter Aaron Katersky. The office confirmed to CNN it had been contacted, and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said a cadaver dog was at the site as well.

Laundrie is a person of interest in the death of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, who did not return from a cross-country trip the two took. Her body was found weeks later in Wyoming, and her death was ruled a homicide.

WWSB also reported Wednesday that the attorney for Laundrie’s family, Stephen Bertolino, said items belonging to Laundrie had been found.

There has been no official word yet of any other discoveries.

Bertolino stated that Chris and Roberta Laundrie, Brian Laundrie’s parents, returned to Myakkahatchee Park early Wednesday morning to help search for their son. FBI agents and North Port police are now back on scene, after reopening the park to the public Tuesday.

The park, alongside Carlton Reserve, had been closed as federal agents continued their search.

“The FBI and NPPD were informed last night of Brian’s parents’ intention, and they met Chris and Roberta there this morning,” Bertolino said to WWSB. “After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented, some articles belonging to Brian were found. As of now, law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of the area.”

Brian Laundrie, 23, faces charges alleging he used a Capital One Bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000. It does not say to whom the card belonged or what type of charges were made. He has not yet been charged in Petito’s death.

He returned to the home he shared with Petito and his parents Sept. 1 in the Ford van the couple took on their trip, and she was reported missing 10 days later by her family, who had not heard from her.

The couple was stopped Aug. 12 by police in Moab, Utah, after they had a physical altercation, but no charges were filed.

Petito’s body was discovered Sept. 19 in Grand Teton National Park. The local coroner said she died by strangulation.

Brian Laundrie was reported missing after telling his parents Sept. 14 that he was going for a hike in the Carlton Reserve, a vast nature preserve in Sarasota County.

The case generated enormous public interest but also raised uncomfortable questions over the unequal attention given to the hundreds of cases of Native American and other minority women missing or murdered across the United States. Petito is white.

Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson with the FBI Tampa office gave a brief update on developments in the search for Laundrie on Wednesday afternoon. He did not take questions and did not identify the remains, but confirmed several items of interest had been found in an area that was previously underwater.

Gov. DeSantis speaks with Gabby Petito’s father prior to FBI press conference
“As you’re aware, the FBI and the North Port Police Department, and our state and local law enforcement partners, have been searching the area of the Carlton Reserve for Brian Laundrie – a person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito,” McPherson said. “Earlier today, investigators found what appears to be human remains, along with personal items such as a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie.”

According to McPherson, the FBI’s evidence response team is at the scene using “all available forensic resources” to process the area. It’s likely they will remain at the park for several days, he said.

“I know you have a lot of questions but we don’t have all the answers yet,” McPherson said. “We are working diligently to get those answers for you.”

 

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