BRIAN Laundrie's backpack and notebook were found in a Florida park, along with an unidentified body, the FBI confirmed this afternoon.
The announcement happened at 4.30 pm local time – hours after human remains were discovered – and sleuths are convinced Laundrie's journal will provide clues into Gabby Petito's death and his disappearance.
"The FBI and the North Port Police Department, and our 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," said Tampa-based Special Agent Michael McPherson.
"Earlier today investigators found what appears to be human remains along with personal items, such as backpack and notebook, belonging to Brian Laundrie.
"These items were found in an area that up until recently had been underwater."
"I know you have a lot of questions, but we don't have all the answers yet. We're working diligently to get those answers for you," McPherson added before protesters started chanting "Justice for Gabby!"
The Laundrie's lawyer, Steven Bertolino, told NBC News that it was Chris and Roberta Laundrie who directed the feds and cops to the location where "some articles belonging to Brian were found."
The items were found by his own parents on a trail he often used in Florida, according to the outlet and Twitter sleuths have speculated that there's a "chance he wrote a confession note in that notebook."
"Gotta wonder what is written in that notebook," wrote WFLA reporter Josh Benson, however, others wondered how the notebook would not disintegrate if it was in a waterlogged area.
The FBI didn't confirm where exactly it was located in the vicinity and other social media users noted that a notebook would be damaged but not destroyed or in a waterproof bag, whereas a body decomposes.
This location was previously underwater. The source told the outlet that the remains were found near a backpack – however, the remains have not yet been identified or connected to Laundrie.
The medical examiner was called in on Wednesday morning after the fugitive's parents reportedly discovered a white bag and a dark-colored object in a patch of brambles.
Read our Brian Laundrie live blog for the very latest news and updates…
The FBI later confirmed that "items of interest" were found, adding that their "evidence response team is processing the scene" and will be there for several days.
Laundrie's parents had joined the search at the creek on Wednesday, as it was closed again just one day after being reopened to the public.
Family attorney Steven Bertolino told The Sun that the Laundries were there when the remains and items were found "in an area where they had initially advised law enforcement Brian might be."
"Chris and Roberta will wait for the forensic identification of the human remains before asking any additional questions," the lawyer said.
In video footage captured by Fox News, Roberta and Chris are seen speaking with a police officer on a hiking trail in Myakkahatchee Creek.
While much of the conversation is inaudible, the officer at one stage seems to tell them "we've found something" and advises the pair to go home.
The officer places his hand on Chris's shoulder during the exchange. Roberta then turns to face him and wipes his cheek.
Earlier, Bertolino said in a statement: "Chris and Roberta Laundrie went to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park this morning to search for Brian.
"The FBI and NPPD were informed last night of Brian’s parents’ intentions and they met Chris and Roberta there this morning 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 that area," he said.
When quizzed as to whether a body had been found at the park, Bertolino said "no comment."
A white tent was later seen erected in the park after the coroner was called out in a large white van. A human remains detection team was also at the scene.
Laundrie and Gabby were roughly two months into a four-month adventure when he returned to his Florida home with their van on September 1.
The transit was found parked outside Laundrie's parents' home, where he and Petito had lived for the past two years.
Following his return to Florida, Laundrie was later reported missing by his family after allegedly telling them that he was going to take a hike in the Mabry Carlton Reserve.
Laundrie's parents said that they drove his car home from a Florida wildlife reserve after he "failed to return from a hike" – days before they reported him missing.
On Monday, cops searched the home of Laundrie and bundled his parents into a police van after declaring the area a "crime scene."
The FBI announced a "search warrant" twice before they removed Chris and Roberta Laundrie from the home. The parents were placed in a van on their lawn.
Police also towed away Laundrie's silver Mustang from his parents' home.
It's believed that Laundrie may have driven the Mustang when he allegedly went for a hike in a 25,000 acre nature reserve in the Sarasota area on Tuesday, the last time his family says they saw him.
Laundrie's parents reportedly told police they realized Brian hadn't come back from his hike "on Wednesday or Thursday," and that's when they went to pick up the Mustang and drove it back to their home.
SPOKE TO COPS
When asked by local reporter Brian Entin if Laundrie's parents could be leading them in the wrong direction, police said they are "working to corroborate their story."
"They did not say 'we believe the parents or we know for sure that Brian was hiking in this reserve'," shared Entin.
Cops had previously left a note on the car asking for it to be removed, but they left the vehicle there until Thursday, hoping Laundrie would return to it, Bertolino told the New York Post.
However, a video appears to show the car parked on the Laundrie’s driveway Wednesday, according to a Crime Online report.
And footage from reporter Entin appeared to show the Mustang convertible back in the driveway on Wednesday night.
Gabby's killer, who has not been named, is now listed among the FBI's Most Wanted as the agency hunts for information on the young woman's final movements.
GABBY'S FINAL DAYS
They narrowed down her final days to between August 27 and August 30 as they call on the public to contact them if they saw her during this time near the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Wyoming.
Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue confirmed that Gabby Petito died by strangulation during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
He added that Gabby's predicted death was three to four weeks before her body was found. The body was outside "in the wilderness" for this time.
The doctor also confirmed that Gabby Petito was not pregnant at the time of her death and that a toxicology report was unable to be released at this time.
Following the autopsy, the young woman's body was returned to the mortuary who are dealing with the family at this time, the doctor added.
Bertolino released a statement saying: "Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy."
"While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise," he said.
"At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him."
Dr Blue declined to say more about the autopsy or the case overall, saying he was prevented by Wyoming law that limits what coroners can release.
Brian Laundrie timeline
Brian Laundrie has not been seen since the morning of September 13. Here is a timeline of Laundrie’s latest whereabouts:
- July 2021: Brian Laundrie and his fiancé Gabby Petito leave for a grip across the country. The couple visit numerous national parks across the way.
- August 12: Police in Utah respond to an incident involving the couple. The bodycam footage is not released for another month but it shows a visibly upset Gabby talking to police after reports of a domestic violence incident outside a grocery store.
- August 24: Gabby is seen leaving a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Laundrie.
- September 1: Laundrie returns to his home in North Port, Florida without Gabby.
- September 6: Laundrie joins his family on a camping trip about 75 miles from their home in North Port.
- September 11: Gabby's family reports her missing.
- September 13: Laundrie leaves home to go hiking in Carlton Reserve, Florida. His family had initially said he departed on September 14, but revised their timeline weeks later.
- September 15: Laundrie is named a person of interest in the case of Gabby.
- September 16: Bodycam footage is released regarding the incident between Gabby and Laundrie.
- September 19: The FBI announces a body found at a Wyoming national park is believed to be that of Gabby's.
- September 23: The FBI issued a warrant for Laundrie's arrest claiming he "used unauthorized debit cards after Gabby Petito's death."
- September 26: A funeral is held for Gabby in New York.
- September 27: Dog the Bounty Hunter announces he will lend a hand and help search for Laundrie.
- September 28: Gabby's family held an emotional press conference as the search for Laundrie continued.
- October 5: Laundrie's sister, Cassie, appeared on Good Morning America and urged her brother to come forward.
- October 7: Laundrie's father, Chris Laundrie, assisted law enforcement in the search to find his son.
- October 12: Gabby's autopsy results were made public. Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue confirmed Gabby died by strangulation.
- October 20: Laundrie's personal items were found near the Myakkahatchee Creek Park trail in Florida. The medical examiner was called to the scene to investigate.
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