Brian Laundrie Belongings Found at Florida Park by His Parents; Medical Examiner Responding

20October 2021

What to KnowThe FBI’s prime person of interest in Gabby Petito’s disappearance, her fiancé Brian Laundrie, has now been missing for more than a month; he vanished nearly a week before Petito’s body was discoveredJust a day ago, North Port reopened Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, where the Mustang was abandoned, after a month-long closure; Laundrie’s parents went to search WednesdayThat park was abruptly shut down again when the two found items belonging to their son after a “brief search” on a trail, family attorney Steve Bertolino told News 4; it’s not clear what was found

Items belonging to Brian Laundrie were found — by his own parents — Wednesday off a trail he frequented at the Florida environmental park center to the national manhunt that had just reopened to the public, the family’s attorney confirmed.

The Sarasota County medical examiner confirms its office is responding to the area where “some articles belonging to Brian,” as Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino described them, were found at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.

Bertolino said Chris and Roberta Laundrie found the items after a “brief” search but didn’t specify what exactly the parents discovered. Neither North Port police nor the FBI had any immediate comment on Wednesday’s discovery.

Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park first reopened to the public only a day ago after a month-long closure to assist the FBI and local authorities in their hunt for Laundrie, who went off the grid five weeks ago. The park was then closed yet again as law enforcement returned to conduct a more thorough investigation.

According to Bertolino, Chris and Roberta Laundrie informed the FBI and North Port Police Tuesday night that they planned to go to the environmental park, the same location where the family’s silver Mustang was abandoned in mid-September. It wasn’t immediately clear why the parents would decide to search there on their own the same day law enforcement decided the public could be allowed to return there.

No other details were immediately available. Local NBC affiliate WFLA described a “large police presence” Wednesday morning at the environmental park, which connects to the Carlton Reserve, the 25,000-acre swamp that has been the focus of the ongoing search for Laundrie, who went completely off the grid five weeks ago.

Before Bertolino announced the findings, North Port police told WFLA the park was once again closed but didn’t provide further details, while department spokesman Josh Taylor told the station “the search continues.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, Taylor, asked by News 4 about the reopening of the park, said he suspects “searches will continue when and where needed.”

Taylor also reiterated the FBI is the lead investigative agency and referred additional — and future questions — to the agency.

The FBI hasn’t publicly commented on the case since issuing a federal arrest warrant for Laundrie, 23, on a single count of debit card fraud other than to say it cannot speak to developments that are part of an ongoing investigation.

Laundrie is the only person of interest the FBI has named in Petito’s disappearance. He hasn’t been seen since mid-September, when his parents told authorities their son said he was going for a hike in the Carlton Reserve. A silver Mustang in the environmental park lot — like the one belonging to his family — had an “abandoned vehicle” tag that was timestamped 2:24 p.m. Sept. 14, WFLA previously reported.

That notice would have suggested the vehicle had been left there for at least a day before it was tagged. It’d be another few days before it would’ve been towed.

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Local and federal investigators have spent dozens upon dozens of law enforcement hours since scouring the environmental park and the vast preserve for Laundrie.

The preserve saw heightened law enforcement activity late last week, as a cadaver dog was requested to assist in the effort. Laundrie’s father, Chris, helped the FBI in person for the first time the week prior, identifying trails he said he and his son liked to hike and other spots he said the 23-year-old may have been interested in.

Laundrie look-alikes have been stopped by law enforcement officers aplenty in recent weeks, according to multiple media outlets, but one month to the day Petito’s body was discovered in Wyoming, no one seems to know where to find him.

Is Laundrie even alive? Is he in hiding? Is anyone helping him? Those questions have been fodder for Internet sleuths across the globe in recent weeks — and for people calling law enforcement tiplines in multiple states over reported sightings — to no avail. The family’s attorney, Bertolino, has said Laundrie’s parents have no idea where he is, didn’t help him escape and are cooperating with authorities.

Petito’s parents, in a series of media interviews over the last two weeks, have said Chris and Roberta Laundrie didn’t help them when they couldn’t get in touch with their daughter in late August and early September. They say they believe the young man’s parents know more than anyone else about what happened to him and, perhaps, their daughter — again statements Bertolino has consistently denied.

The 22-year-old Long Island woman’s remains were recovered Sept. 19 in a remote area of a Wyoming national park she and Laundrie had visited during their months-long cross-country road trip. Last week, the county coroner who ruled her death a homicide revealed chilling details from the autopsy results: Petito was strangled by someone’s bare hands, and likely died three to four weeks before she was found.

That type of death is one of “the most intimate of homicides that can occur,” forensic expert Joseph Scott Morgan told News 4’s The Debrief podcast last week.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: WHAT GABBY PETITO’S AUTOPSY DETAILS COULD MEAN — AND WHY ‘THE VANISHED’ TEAM THINKS THIS CASE STOOD OUT

The coroner who examined Petito’s remains, Dr. Brent Blue of Teton County, declined to share additional details on the autopsy results, citing state protocol. The FBI did not comment publicly on those autopsy results or lend any public insight as far as what they might mean for the direction of their investigation.

The FBI continues to solicit tips by phone and online regarding the potential whereabouts of Laundrie or any other details on the couple.

Relevant information may be submitted to the FBI here or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI or 303-629-7171. Photos & videos may be uploaded to: http://fbi.gov/petito.     

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