Remains Found in Wyoming Match Description of Missing Woman Gabrielle Petito

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Credit…Florida Police/Via Reuters

[Follow live updates on the Gabby Petito case.]

Human remains believed to belong to a Florida woman reported missing after her fiancé returned home from a monthslong van trip without her were found in a national park in Wyoming on Sunday, the F.B.I. said at a news conference.

“Earlier today, human remains were discovered, consistent with a description of Gabrielle (Gabby) Petito,” said Charles Jones, an F.BI. agent, adding that a full forensic identification had not been completed to confirm the remains were those of Ms. Petito, 22.

“On behalf of the F.B.I. personnel and our partners, I would like to extend sincere, sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family,” said Mr. Jones, who did not take questions at the news conference. “As every parent can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult time for the family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We ask that you all respect their privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter.”

A cause of death had not been determined, Mr. Jones said.

The remains were found in the area of the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area, located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park, Mr. Jones said, adding that the campsite will remain closed. Anyone who had been in the camping area between Aug. 27 and Aug. 30 was urged to contact the F.B.I., Mr. Jones said.

The discovery of the remains believed to be that of Ms. Petito appeared to end one search for a missing person as another continued for her missing fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23, after his parents told the police they had not seen him in days.

Mr. Laundrie, whom the police have called a “person of interest,” had through a lawyer declined to speak with investigators, the police said. When his parents told the police that he, too, was missing, a search for him began that included scouring a vast Florida wildlife refuge.

Lawyers for the Petito family and Mr. Laundrie did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday night.

As the police, F.B.I. agents and National Park rangers searched for Ms. Petito in Wyoming, the woman’s last known whereabouts, according to her family, the authorities in Florida searched for Mr. Laundrie in the refuge, a 24,565-acre park in Sarasota County called the Carlton Reserve. On Sunday afternoon, the police in North Port, Fla., said their search at the Carlton Reserve had ended for the day with nothing new to report.

The North Port Police Department said they were “saddened and heartbroken to learn that Gabby has been found deceased.”

Ms. Petito left with Mr. Laundrie in July in a white Ford van outfitted for a cross-country adventure. On Sept. 1, Mr. Laundrie returned to the home in North Port, Fla., where he lived with his parents and Ms. Petito, in the white van that the couple had used for the trip and that had been registered to Ms. Petito.

Ten days later, Ms. Petito was reported missing by her parents on Sept. 11, according to the police.

In the days after Ms. Petito was reported missing, the authorities expressed “frustration” in their efforts to speak to Mr. Laundrie, who has not been declared a suspect in the case.

The case has drawn widespread attention, as reporters have gathered outside Mr. Laundrie’s house and some in the public have scoured the couple’s Instagram accounts, which depicted a seemingly carefree, nomadic “van life” in the American West.

Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie left New York on July 2 for what was supposed to be a four-month, cross-country trip visiting national parks, said Ms. Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt. The couple posted photos and cheerful updates on Instagram and YouTube, and outfitted the van with a bed, tiny bookcases and plants and art.

Credit…Amber Baesler/Associated Press

The human remains believed to belong to Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito were found on the eastern boundary of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the F.B.I. said, an area that her family previously said was the last place they knew she was driving toward with her fiancé as they embarked on a cross-country trip.

The remains were specifically found in the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, a remote, alpine landscape with glimmering lakes, sprawling mountains and more than 200 miles of trails, where millions of visitors come each year, according to the National Park Service.

The camping area, which is in not in a developed campground facility and lacks services like drinking water and trash removal, is popular with campers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The site also offers views of the Tetons.

Ms. Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt, said he and Ms. Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, last spoke with Ms. Petito on a FaceTime call on either Aug. 23 or Aug. 24. During that call, they learned that Ms. Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were leaving Utah and driving to Grand Teton National Park.

The couple’s cross-country trip was well documented on social media.

Mr. Schmidt said Ms. Petito texted her mother a few times after that, according to the New York Post.

After Mr. Laundrie, who is now a “person of interest” in the case, returned to his house in North Port, Fla., without her, Ms. Petito’s family reported her missing, the North Port Police Department said.

The Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area was closed to the public on Sunday evening.

Charles Jones, an F.BI. agent, said on Sunday that crews with the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service had helped investigators navigate “rugged terrain” during the search.

Credit…Petito Family

On Sept. 11, the family of Gabrielle Petito reported her missing to the North Port, Fla., police department. She seemed to have disappeared in the western United States during a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who returned to his home in North Port without Ms. Petito, 22, on Sept. 1.

On Sunday human remains “consistent” with Ms. Petito’s body were found in Bridger-Teton National Forest on the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, F.B.I. officials said at a news conference.

Ms. Petito had been working as a pharmacy technician to save money for the trip. She met Mr. Laundrie, 23, at Bayport-Blue Point High School on Long Island, according to her stepfather, Jim Schmidt. She is the eldest of six siblings.

The couple left New York on July 2 for what was supposed to be a four-month-long trip in a converted camper van and documented much of the trip with bright, carefree posts on social media. Near the top of Ms. Petito’s Instagram feed are the words: “traveling the world in our tiny van” and “art, yoga, & veggies.”

In an Instagram post accompanying a photo taken in Arches National Park in Utah, Ms. Petito wrote of her afternoon at one of the park’s notable rock formations. She and Mr. Laundrie, the post said, had sat “drawing and enjoying the nature without seeing anybody who was on line or taking photos! It felt like we had the entire delicate arch to ourselves!”

Credit…Agence France-Presse, via Moab City Police Department/Afp Via Getty Images

Three days after Gabrielle Petito and Brian Laundrie posed for a photo together, kissing under an arch in Arches National Park in Utah, they had an encounter with the police in Moab.

On Aug. 12, Mr. Laundrie had “some sort of argument” with Ms. Petito and told her to take a walk and calm down, according to the Moab police, who responded to a report of a “domestic problem.”

Mr. Laundrie and Ms. Petito both told the police that they were in love, engaged to be married and “desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” the police said.

Mr. Laundrie told an officer that “issues between the two had been building over the last few days,” according to a police report.

Ms. Petito, who cried during the encounter with the police, said she suffered from anxiety, according to body camera footage of the episode. In the police report, Ms. Petito is recorded saying she moved to slap Mr. Laundrie because she feared he “was going to leave her in Moab without a ride.”

Both told the police that the episode should be classified as a “mental/emotional health ‘break,’” rather than as a domestic assault, according to the report.

She admitted hitting Mr. Laundrie, who was calm when he spoke with the officers, politely declining offers of bottled water because he disliked plastic.

In the report, the police described Mr. Laundrie as the victim of the incident. They arranged for him to stay in a hotel that night while Ms. Petito kept the van. No charges were filed, the report states.

On an Instagram post uploaded on the day of the police encounter, Ms. Petito writes that she and Mr. Laundrie were camping one night under an opened tent, “watching the stars.”

In later posts, she was photographed smiling and posing against backdrops of nature.

Eduardo Medina contributed.

Credit…Agence France-Presse, via Moab City Police Department/Afp Via Getty Images

Brian Laundrie, a Long Island native, is Gabrielle Petito’s fiancé and a “person of interest” in her disappearance, as he was the last person known to have been with her before she went missing, according to the authorities.

Mr. Laundrie, 23, is himself missing after his parents reported to the authorities that they had not seen him since Sept. 14, several days after he refused to speak with investigators about the whereabouts of Ms. Petito, the authorities said.

He had returned to his house in North Port, Fla., on Sept. 1 in the white Ford van that he and Ms. Petito used in their cross-country journey, which started on July 2.

Mr. Laundrie first met Ms. Petito at Bayport-Blue Point High School on Long Island, according to Ms. Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt.

The couple began their trip in New York, from where they embarked on what was supposed to be a four-month, cross-country journey visiting and camping in national parks, Mr. Schmidt said.

They documented their travels on their Instagram accounts and on YouTube, posting clips that showed them kissing and scaling rocks, scenes back-dropped by blue skies and rugged terrain.

Ten days after Mr. Laundrie returned to Florida, Ms. Petito was declared missing.

Chief Todd Garrison of the North Port Police posted a plea on Twitter addressed to Steven Bertolino, Mr. Laundrie’s lawyer, asking him to arrange a conversation with Mr. Laundrie.

At the time, Mr. Laundrie exercised his constitutional right not to speak with the authorities, Chief Garrison said.

But on Sept. 17, Mr. Laundrie’s parents summoned the police to their home in North Port and told them that they had not seen Mr. Laundrie in three days.

Investigators then started a search for Mr. Laundrie at the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre park about 13 miles from North Port, and where police said his family believes he traveled to. As of Sunday night, there were no reports from police that he had been found.

Credit…Petito Family

The authorities are investigating the disappearance of Gabrielle Petito, who left Long Island, New York in July on a trip in a van with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

In September, Mr. Laundrie returned to his home in Florida without Ms. Petito, 22, and the police opened a missing persons case after her family came to them.

The police in North Port, Fla., working with federal and local investigators, have described Mr. Laundrie, 23, as a “person of interest,” a vague term often used by law enforcement agencies to identify someone they believe may have been involved in a crime. Mr. Laundrie has not been named as a suspect or arrested. Through his lawyer, he has declined to speak with investigators, the police said.

Here is a timeline of the case.

The couple left New York for what was supposed to be a four-month, cross-country trip visiting and camping in national parks, said Ms. Petito’s stepfather, Jim Schmidt.

They documented their travels on their Instagram accounts and on YouTube.

Credit…Moab Police Department, via Associated Press

Ms. Petito published a photograph of herself on Instagram, taken on Aug. 9, sitting under an arch in Arches National Park in Utah.

The same day that she posted the picture, the police in Moab, Utah, responded to a report of a “domestic problem” after Mr. Laundrie had “some sort of argument” with Ms. Petito, according to a police report.

Mr. Laundrie and Ms. Petito told the police that they were in love, engaged to be married and “desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime.” According to the police report, Mr. Laundrie told an officer that “issues between the two had been building over the last few days.”

The couple published an eight-minute video on YouTube titled “Van Life: Beginning Our Van Life Journey.” It showed them kissing, scaling rocks and laughing about how the sun in Utah had melted the chocolate in Mr. Laundrie’s granola. “I love the van,” Ms. Petito said, smiling at Mr. Laundrie.

Mr. Schmidt said he and Ms. Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, last spoke with Ms. Petito on a FaceTime call about this time. He said Ms. Petito told them that she and Mr. Laundrie were leaving Utah and driving to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Mr. Schmidt said Ms. Petito texted her mother a few times after that.

The last post on her Instagram account was published on Aug. 25.

Nichole Schmidt said she received a text from her daughter’s phone, according to The New York Post. The text said, “No service in Yosemite,” Ms. Schmidt told The Post.

Mr. Laundrie returned to his house in North Port, Fla., in the white Ford van that the couple had used for the trip, and that had been registered to Ms. Petito. He was alone.

Ms. Petito’s family reported her missing, the North Port Police Department said.

Credit…Petito Family

The police described Mr. Laundrie as a “person of interest,” saying he was the last person known to have been with Ms. Petito before she went missing. Chief Todd Garrison of the North Port Police posted a plea on Twitter addressed to Steven Bertolino, Mr. Laundrie’s lawyer, asking him to arrange a conversation with Mr. Laundrie.

Mr. Bertolino said he had advised Mr. Laundrie not to speak with the authorities.

Officials at Grand Teton National Park said rangers were working with investigators from the National Park Service, the F.B.I. and other local authorities to find Ms. Petito.

Chief Garrison said at a news conference that Mr. Laundrie was exercising his constitutional right not to speak with the authorities, and that investigators were still treating the search as a missing persons case.

Joseph Petito, Ms. Petito’s father, appeared at the news conference and pleaded for tips and help from the community in finding his daughter. Ms. Petito’s parents and stepparents also made a public plea directly to Mr. Laundrie’s parents, begging them to reveal where “Brian left Gabby.”

“We ask you to put yourselves in our shoes,” they said in the letter, which was read by their lawyer, Richard Stafford. “We haven’t been able to sleep or eat. And our lives are falling apart.”

Mr. Laundrie’s parents summoned the police to their home in North Port and told them that they had not seen Mr. Laundrie since Sept. 14.

The North Port police announced that they were searching the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre park about 13 miles from North Port, for Mr. Laundrie. Mr. Laundrie’s family “says they believe he entered the area earlier this week,” the police said on Twitter.

The F.B.I. said it was searching Grand Teton National Park and the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area, both in Wyoming, for Ms. Petito.

Human remains believed to belong to Ms. Petito were found in a national forest in Wyoming, the F.B.I. said. An agent said the remains were consistent with a description of” Ms. Petito, but added that a full forensic identification was still needed to confirm.

The authorities in Florida searched for Mr. Laundrie in a 24,565-acre park in Sarasota County called the Carlton Reserve. The police in North Port, Fla., said their search at the Carlton Reserve had ended with nothing new to report.





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