FBI confirms human remains are those of Brian Laundrie

By Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 10:38 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021
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7:12 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Petito's family will speak "at the appropriate time and when they are emotionally ready," lawyer says

From CNN’s Randi Kaye

Richard Stafford, lawyer for Gabby Petito's family, said they will not give any interviews or make any statements right now following the news that human remains found in Florida belong to her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

 “They are grieving the loss of their beautiful daughter. Gabby’s family will make a statement at the appropriate time and when they are emotionally ready,” Stafford said.

Laundrie disappeared after Petito was reported missing in the wake of a road trip through the western US. Her body was found last month.

6:48 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Brian Laundrie's parents were on the scene when officials found his remains yesterday

From CNN's Aya Elamroussi, Taylor Romine, Leyla Santiago, Randi Kaye and Sara Weisfeldt

Brian Laundrie's parents were on the scene when officials found human remains in a Florida reserve yesterday, Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, said. Moments ago, the FBI announced those remains belonged to Laundrie.

His parents — Chris and Roberta Laundrie — joined in the search Wednesday morning and found a bag belonging to their son at the park, which their attorney described as "happenstance."

According to Bertolino, Laundrie's parents informed the FBI and the North Port Police Department on Tuesday night that they wanted to visit the park Wednesday morning to search for their son.

Law enforcement met them there and closely accompanied them as they entered the park, Bertolino said.

"As they went further in, Chris ventured off the trail into the woods. He was zigzagging in different areas, law enforcement was doing the same thing. And Roberta Laundrie was walking down the trail," Bertolino said. "At some point, Chris locates what's called a dry bag. The dry bag is a white bag, laying in the woods, say 20 feet or so off the trail."

The dry bag was in some brambles and he didn't want to move it because he wanted his law enforcement to see it, Bertolino said. However, Chris Laundrie couldn't find law enforcement and didn't want to leave the bag there with a news reporter standing nearby, so he picked it up, Bertolino explained.

"He did meet up shortly with law enforcement, they looked at the contents of the bag. At that time, law enforcement officers showed him a picture on the phone of a backpack that law enforcement had located also nearby and also some distance off the trail," Bertolino told CNN.

"At that point, the Laundries were notified there was also remains near the backpack, and they were asked to leave the preserve."

The remains were found "about 2 to 3 miles inside the Carlton Reserve, or about a 45-minute walk" from the entrance at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, Taylor said Wednesday.

When asked why the parents chose to go to the park on Wednesday, Bertolino said it was the first day it was reopened to the public.

"The parents had assumed that the experts, the FBI and all the tracking teams they had would be able to locate Brian based upon the information that we had provided them to the specific areas and trails in the park that Brian liked to visit," Bertolino said. "The park had been closed to the public. There was really no other reason for the Laundries to go search anywhere else."

7:06 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Determining Brian Laundrie's cause of death could be "challenging," says forensic pathologist

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Dr. Priya Banerjee, a forensic pathologist, today said she believes it could be difficult for authorities to determine Brian Laundrie's cause of death, depending on the condition of the body.

"Now my colleagues have quite a challenge in determining the cause of death," she said. "...I don't know how much has been recovered of his body. So that will be challenging."

Banerjee went on to say that authorities may be able to glean clues from a notebook that was discovered along with a backpack and human remains, which a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN was "possibly salvageable."

"I know they were out there again today," she said. "Maybe the diary or other evidence can shed some light as to what happened."

Speaking later in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Banerjee said she found it strange that Laundrie's parents were permitted to remain in the park when Laundrie's remains were discovered, after his personal items were found.

"Usually even when I respond to a crime scene, the family is not allowed," she said. "No external people are allowed other than the immediate...investigators." 

"That was odd to me," she added.  

6:28 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Here's a recap of how Gabby Petito's case unfolded

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito (From Gabby Petito/Instagram)

News that human remains found in a Florida park are those of Brian Laundrie comes days after the death of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was ruled to be strangulation.

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue made the announcement last week. He said that the time of Petito's death was estimated to be about three to four weeks before her body was found on Sept. 19 in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.

Here's what we know about the timeline in Petito's case:

June: Petito and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country trip, according to North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison, who refers to Laundrie as Petito's fiancé.

They planned to travel in Petito's white Ford van to the West Coast and visit state and national parks across the western United States, Garrison said at a news briefing.

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.

Aug. 12: Moab, Utah, police had an encounter with the couple on Aug. 12, where officers described them as having "engaged in some sort of altercation."

Although the two were 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 officers' suggestion, the couple separated for the night, according to the report, 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 report. No charges were filed.

The couple each had their own cell phones in case of emergency, the report added.

In a 911 audio recording from that day provided by the Grand County Sheriff's Office, a caller told dispatch he wanted to report a domestic dispute and described a white van with a Florida license plate.

The caller said as they were driving by, "the gentleman was slapping the girl."

"Then we stopped," the caller added. "They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off."

Aug. 17: Laundrie flew to Tampa, Florida, from Salt Lake City on Aug. 17, according to Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino.

Laundrie "flew home to obtain some items and empty and close the storage unit to save money as they contemplated extending the road trip," Bertolino told CNN.

Aug. 23: Laundrie returned to Salt Lake City to rejoin Petito, the attorney said, adding, "To my knowledge, Brian and Gabby paid for the flights as they were sharing expenses."

Sept. 19: Remains were found in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. Three days later, the FBI in Denver confirmed that the remains were Petito's.

Read the full timeline here.

CNN's Eric Levenson contributed reporting to this post.

5:57 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Laundrie family attorney says his parents have been notified that the remains belonged to their son

From CNN’s Taylor Romine

Brian Laundrie’s parents have been informed that the remains found yesterday belonged to his son, Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, told CNN Thursday

“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are indeed Brian’s. We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundrie’s privacy at this time,” Bertolino said.

Moments ago, the FBI said that a comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida yesterday are those of Laundrie.

5:46 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

FBI confirms human remains found at Carlton Reserve are those of Brian Laundrie

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

A comparison of dental records on Thursday confirmed that the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park yesterday are those of Brian Laundrie, the FBI said in a release Thursday evening.

“The FBI is grateful for the tremendous investigative support from our partners: North Port Police Department, Sarasota Police Department, Jackson Police Department, Charlotte County Sheriffs Office, Lee County Sheriffs Office, Sarasota County Sheriffs Office, Teton County Sheriff's Office, Teton County Search and Rescue, the Florida Wildlife Commission, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service,” the release added.

5:51 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Clothing and skeletal remains believed to belong to Laundrie, North Port police says

From CNN's Leyla Santiago and Sara Weisfeldt

North Port Police said human remains found at the Carlton reserve on Wednesday are definitely those of a human. 

“They are human remains, no doubt there. I would say that the remains were consistent with one individual, you know skeletal remains,” North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor told CNN.

Investigators also found clothing believed to belong to Brian Laundrie. 

“That (the clothing) was there as well. It’s consistent with what he was believed to be wearing,” Taylor said.  

Taylor indicated the belongings had been out there for some time, rejecting the possibility of items recently planted at the reserve.

“The notebook to my understanding has not been opened. You know, that will need to be processed,” said Taylor. 

Asked if any weapons were found, Taylor responded, “I can’t get into that information.

CNN also asked Taylor if there was still an ongoing search for Laundrie, Taylor responded, “There is no other search that I am aware of.”

During a search with police yesterday, Laundrie’s father, Chris Laundrie, was the first to spot an item belonging to his son, according to Taylor. 

6:11 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Notebook found at scene is "possibly salvageable," source says

From CNN’s Randi Kaye

A notebook that was discovered on Wednesday, along with a backpack and human remains, is “possibly salvageable,” Aasource with knowledge of the Brian Laundrie investigation told CNN.

The source said the notebook was “outside of the dry bag.” 

“It had been clearly wet and they are going to use any potential means to dry that out before opening it,” the source said, adding, “They’ll be very careful with it.”

The source said it is unclear how the notebook ended up outside the “dry bag.”

The Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, said Brian Laundrie’s father, Chris Laundrie, had discovered the dry bag while searching yesterday with law enforcement. It’s unclear who found the notebook.

6:34 p.m. ET, October 21, 2021

Law enforcement is working with "very, very difficult conditions" in Laundrie search

North Port police block the entrance to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on October 20 in North Port, Florida.
North Port police block the entrance to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on October 20 in North Port, Florida. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

Authorities said that law enforcement is dealing with "treacherous conditions" as they continue the Brian Laundrie search in a Florida nature reserve.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said there are "water levels up above almost the chest area," plus rattlesnakes and alligators.

"I know everybody wants to know exactly what's going on every second possible. ... But we'll never, never jeopardize an investigation to give that information out until the time is right," Marceno said.

"Things change by the second, by the minute. These are very, very difficult conditions. I mean, you're searching in areas that you just can't walk up and look. It's not like you're searching a house or a car. These areas are huge, and they're covered by water," Marceno said.