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23-year-old Florida man’s disappearance sparked a nationwide hunt after the disappearance and death of Gabby Petito
Brian Laundrie, whose disappearance sparked a nationwide manhunt in September after his fiancee, Gabby Petito, went missing and was later found murdered, killed himself, an autopsy report released on Tuesday revealed.
Laundrie’s remains were found in a Florida nature preserve last month, one month after Petito, 22, was found strangled to death on the edge of Wyoming’s Grand Teton national park, where the couple had been travelling together in a van.
The 23-year-old was named a person of interest in the case after he returned to his parents’ home in Florida alone in early September, then disappeared himself.
Petito’s parents reported her missing on 11 September, three days before Laundrie’s family claimed he left their house in North Port with a backpack but left behind his wallet and cellphone.
The initial coroner’s report on Laundrie, issued soon after his skeletal remains were discovered in the swampy Myakkahatchee Creek environmental park, was inconclusive.
On Tuesday, Steven Bertolino, attorney for Laundrie’s parents, announced they had now received a more detailed report after the remains were sent to a forensic anthropologist.
“Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families,” Bertolino said.
Laundrie was never charged in connection with Petito’s death, but a federal arrest warrant was issued by a court in Wyoming on 24 September after a grand jury indicted him for the unauthorized use of a debit card which Petito’s family say was hers.
FBI investigators have been searching for clues in belongings found near Laundrie’s body, including a water-damaged notebook. The FBI has yet to release any statement on the progress of its investigation.
The hunt for Petito, who was recording the couple’s cross-country adventures on social media, and then the search for Laundrie, captured the nation’s attention. Police in Moab City, Utah, released body-cam footage recorded on 12 August of officers speaking with the couple after receiving a domestic violence call.
In the video, a tearful Petito is seen admitting the pair had fought, with officers eventually separating them for the night, Laundrie going to a hotel. Laundrie is seen telling the officers, who controversially concluded that Petito was the aggressor, that they had “a minor scuffle” and he did not want to pursue a domestic violence charge.
“I’m not going to pursue anything because she is my fiancee and I love her,” he says. “It was just a squabble. Sorry it had to get so public.”
It was the last known recording of Laundrie and Petito together.
North Port police investigating Laundrie’s disappearance said the family refused to speak with detectives, which Bertolino later said was on his advice. Nobody has been charged in connection with the case.
Laundrie and Petito were childhood sweethearts on Long Island in New York, then moved to Florida in 2019 to live with Laundrie’s parents in North Port, about 34 miles south of Sarasota. They set off on their “van life” trip in July, planning to reach Oregon by Halloween, according to their social media accounts.