• The San Juan Daily Star

Gabby Petito’s death ruled a homicide, FBI confirms

Gabrielle Petito, 22, was reported missing after traveling with her boyfriend around the country in a van.

By Jesús Jiménez

Human remains found in a national park in Wyoming were confirmed earlier this week to be those of Gabrielle Petito, according to the FBI, which also said that the manner of death was determined to be homicide.

In a statement, the FBI said that the remains found Sunday were taken to the Teton County Coroner’s Office, where forensic examination confirmed Petito’s identity and manner of death. The specific cause of death was still pending final autopsy results, the agency said.

Michael Schneider, a special agent in charge with the FBI in Denver, said in the statement that anyone with information about Brian Laundrie, Petito’s fiancé, who had gone on a cross-country road trip with her this summer and who had been named as a person of interest in the case, should contact the agency.

“The FBI and our partners remain dedicated to ensuring anyone responsible for or complicit in Ms. Petito’s death is held accountable for their actions,” Schneider said.

The FBI on Tuesday also said that a forensic search of the camping area where Petito’s remains were found had concluded. The FBI asked that anyone who had been in the camping area from Aug. 27 to Aug. 30 contact the agency.

The remains were found in the area of the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area, in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park.

Lawyers for both families did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday evening.

The case has drawn widespread attention, as reporters have gathered outside 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.

Meanwhile, the search continued for Laundrie in a 24,565-acre park in Sarasota County, Florida, called the Carlton Reserve, a day after police in North Port, Florida, said they had “exhausted all avenues” at the park.

In a statement Tuesday, Josh Taylor, a spokesperson for North Port police, said the reserve “is a vast and unforgiving location at times.”

“It is currently waist-deep in water in many areas,” he said. “This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator- and snake-infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.”

North Port police shared video of their search Tuesday. In the video, Taylor says drones are being used to survey the area, which is about 75% underwater.

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

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

In the days after Petito was reported missing, authorities expressed “frustration” in their efforts to speak to Laundrie.

Steven Bertolino, a lawyer for Laundrie, said late Monday that he had canceled a news conference set for Tuesday after a conversation with the FBI.

“No inferences should be drawn from this statement,” he said.

Bertolino declined to elaborate on his communications with the agency.

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