Apparent human remains found in park amid search for Gabby Petito's fiance

Items believed to belong to Brian Laundrie also found, his lawyer says

Potential human remains and items believed to belong to Brian Laundrie were found on Wednesday at a Florida wilderness park during the search for the primary person of interest in the murder of Gabby Petito, law enforcement sources and a Laundrie family lawyer said.

Michael McPherson, chief of the Tampa FBI office, said at a news conference that it will take time to identify the remains, which forensic teams were examining. Mr McPherson said they were found near a backpack and a notebook linked to Laundrie.

Mr Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta, took part in the search on Wednesday with the FBI and police from North Port, Florida, more than a month after Mr Laundrie was reported missing after heading into the vast Carlton Reserve park.

“After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented, some articles belonging to Brian were found,” lawyer Steven Bertolino said in a text to The Associated Press. “As of now, law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of that area.”

MSNBC first reported on the discovery, citing a senior law enforcement official.

A coroner earlier this month said Petito had been killed by strangulation.

Mr Laundrie, 23, was declared a "person of interest" in the case. He declined to co-operate with police before disappearing.

The Sarasota County Medical Examiner's Office was called on Wednesday morning to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park where the search for Mr Laundrie was under way, a representative for the office said.

Police have been searching for Mr Laundrie for weeks, and live television images on Wednesday showed search teams and sniffer dogs at work.

"Items of interest were located at the Carlton Reserve this morning in connection with the search for Brian Laundrie," FBI Tampa said in a statement.

"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 body of Petito, 22, lay in the Wyoming wilderness for a month until it was discovered in mid-September.

Petito had quit her job and packed her life into a camper van for a cross-country adventure with Mr Laundrie, starting in July, and they documented their journey in a series of social media posts.

She posted her final photo to Instagram on August 25, the same day she last spoke to her mother by phone. Petito was last seen alive on August 26.

Her family filed a missing person report on September 11 after she vanished, and Mr Laundrie returned home to Florida without her.

Petito's disappearance captivated the country, first as an internet sensation and then as a tabloid mystery that grew more enigmatic by the day.

It also triggered debate over the disproportionate attention afforded to missing white women.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: October 20th 2021, 9:30 PM
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