Apparent remains found in search for Brian Laundrie

By Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 8:07 a.m. ET, October 21, 2021
10 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:54 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

Remains and personal items were previously submerged in water, authorities say

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

The apparent human remains officials found today, as well as personal items of Brian Laundrie, were covered by water until recently, authorities 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," FBI Tampa Division Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson said in a press conference.

"These items were found in an area that up until recently have been under water," he added.

The items were found near a trail that Laundrie frequented at a North Port, Florida, park, according to the family's attorney. 

Throughout the search for Laundrie, authorities have contended with sitting water. Early in the search, the Sarasota Sheriff's Office deployed the Sheriff's Underwater Recovery Force, which consists of "highly trained underwater specialists," who were "called upon to search for evidence of crimes and victims of drowning, water accidents and foul play," according to the sheriff's office website.

Laundrie disappeared after his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was reported missing in the wake of a road trip through the Western US. Her body was found last month.

4:39 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

JUST IN: Human remains found in search for Brian Laundrie

(WINK)
(WINK)

Officials have found "what appears to be human remains" during today's search for Brian Laundrie, FBI Tampa Division will be Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson announced.

McPherson said they also found a backpack and notebook that appear to belong to Laundrie.

The apparent remains have not been identified.

Laundrie disappeared after his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was reported missing in the wake of a road trip through the Western US. Her body was found last month.

Last week, a Wyoming coroner ruled Petito's cause of death was strangulation.

4:09 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

SOON: FBI officials give an update on the search for Brian Laundrie

Officials with FBI Tampa are expected to give a statement to the media concerning today’s developments in the search for Brian Laundrie at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Officials will be speaking at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park entrance in North Port, Florida, according to Andrea Aprea from FBI Tampa Public Affairs.

Earlier today, a family attorney said "some articles" belonging to Laundrie were found off a trail that he frequented at the park.

Laundrie disappeared after his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was reported missing in the wake of a road trip through the Western US. Her body was found last month.

Last week, a Wyoming coroner ruled Petito's cause of death was strangulation.

3:37 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

FAA issues temporary flight restriction over Florida environmental park

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy and Greg Agvent

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a temporary flight restriction over the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, shortly after Brian Laundrie's family attorney Steve Bertolino said "articles" belonging to Brian were found off a trail there. 

The order means that no aircrafts, including drones, are allowed to fly in the 10-mile diameter area above the park. Prior to the restriction, local news station helicopters had been providing live aerial footage. 

The restriction is set to expire on Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. ET.

3:33 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

FBI Tampa will provide an update regarding the search for Brian Laundrie at 4:30 p.m. ET

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Danielle Hackett

FBI Tampa will be making a statement to the media concerning today’s developments in the search for Brian Laundrie at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Officials will be speaking at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park Entrance in North Port, Florida, according to Andrea Aprea from FBI Tampa Public Affairs.

2:22 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

FBI Tampa confirms "items of interest" found at Carlton Reserve 

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

“Items of interest” were found at the Carlton Reserve this morning in connection with the search for Brian Laundrie, the FBI Tampa confirmed in a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

According to the tweet, an FBI Evidence Response team is "processing the scene." The reserve is closed to the public and no further details are available at this time, the FBI said.

1:38 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

Additional teams of first responders are arriving on the scene

From CNN’s Leyla Santiago, Randi Kaye, and Jon Passantino

(WINK)
(WINK)

Additional teams of first responders are arriving on the scene at the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota, Florida, as the search for Brian Laundrie continues.

CNN can confirm the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Team and Lee County Sheriff’s Office is now on scene along with a mobile unit and a tent.

2:14 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

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

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Gabby Petito is pictured in a post on her Instagram account on August 25, 2021.
Gabby Petito is pictured in a post on her Instagram account on August 25, 2021. From gabspetito/Instagram

News that "some articles" belonging to Brian Laundrie were found in a Florida park comes days after Gabby Petito's cause of death 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.

1:11 p.m. ET, October 20, 2021

The medical examiner has been called to the scene

From CNN’s Leyla Santiago, Randi Kaye and Taylor Romine

The Sarasota County Medical Examiner has been called to the Carlton reserve area, CNN has confirmed.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that a cadaver dog is on the scene as well as two spotters.

The Laundrie family attorney, Steve Bertolino, had no comment when asked about the coroner arriving on scene.

Earlier Wednesday, Bertolino told CNN that some articles of Brian Laundrie’s were found off a trail that Laundrie frequented at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.

Bertolino also said earlier that Laundrie's parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, informed the FBI and the North Port Police Department Tuesday night that they intended to come to the park on Wednesday morning to search for Laundrie.