A massive search for Brian Laundrie, the boyfriend of slain 22-year-old travel blogger Gabby Petito, took a dramatic twist Thursday with the announcement that human remains found in a Florida nature preserve are those of the wanted fugitive, according to the FBI.
The remains were recovered Wednesday, nearly five weeks after Petito's body was recovered in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. The Teton County Coroner ruled her death a homicide by strangulation.
The search for the 23-year-old Laundrie was centered around North Port, Florida, where investigators said he returned to his home on Sept. 1 without Petito but driving her 2012 Ford Transit.
Laundrie had been named by police as a "person of interest" in Petito's disappearance and a federal warrant had been issued for him alleging unauthorized use of Petito's credit card.
He refused to speak to the police and vanished on Sept. 13. His parents told investigators they believed he was headed to the Carlton Reserve in North Port.
The case grabbed national attention as Laundrie and Petito had been traveling across the country since June, documenting the trip on social media. Petito's parents reported her missing on Sept. 11 after not hearing from her for two weeks.
Here is how the weekslong search for Laundrie unfolded:
- Police find apparent human remains, personal items belonging to Laundrie
- Cadaver dog team called to scene
- Brian Laundrie's father joins police in search for son: Attorney
- Brian Laundrie left parents’ home to hike day earlier than parents originally told investigators
- Second Moab Police body camera footage shows Gabby Petito claim Brian Laundrie grabbed her face
- FBI ends search at Laundrie residence
- Car Brian Laundrie last used was parked in parents' driveway: Authorities
Authorities to allow Laundrie's father to assist with search, attorney says
Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney, told ABC News Wednesday that authorities are going to allow Chris Laundrie, Brian Laundrie's father, to assist with the search at the Carlton Reserve.
Investigators don't currently have more details on when he will join the search.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office told ABC News they provided aerial support Wednesday for a search of the area.
-ABC News' Whitney Lloyd and Alondra Valle
Brian Laundrie left parents’ home to hike day earlier than parents originally told investigators
Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino confirmed to ABC News Tuesday night that the family now believes Brian Laundrie left to hike the Carlton Reserve on Monday, Sept. 13. Previously, they had told investigators he left on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
“The Laundries were basing the date Brian left on their recollection of certain events. Upon further communication with the FBI and confirmation of the Mustang being at the Laundrie residence on Wednesday September 15, we now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday September 13,” Bertolino said.
-ABC News' Kristin Thorne and Alondra Valle
Brian Laundrie flew home to Florida in early August: Family attorney
An attorney for the family of Brian Laundrie confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the wanted fugitive flew home to Florida from Salt Lake City on Aug. 17 and flew back to Utah six days later to rejoin his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, on their cross-country road trip.
Steven Bertolino said Laundrie flew home to "obtain some items and empty and close the (couple's) storage unit to save money as they contemplated extending the road trip." Bertolino said the couple paid for the flights together as they were sharing expenses.
Laundrie's trip back to the Tampa area came five days after he and Petito were stopped by police in Moab, Utah, when witnesses reported the couple was engaged in a domestic violence incident in Moab.
Second Moab Police body camera footage shows Gabby Petito claim Brian Laundrie grabbed her face
Moab, Utah, police released new body camera footage Thursday showing a second angle of officers’ interaction with Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie on Aug. 12. One angle of the interaction was released earlier this month.
In this footage, Petito describes Laundrie grabbing and unintentionally scratching her face after she initially hit him.
When asked if Laundrie hit her, she responded, “I guess, I guess yeah,” adding, “but I hit him first.”
”Where did he hit you? Don’t worry, just be honest,” the officer asked.
She responded by grabbing her own face.
“He grabbed my face, I guess. He didn’t like hit me in the face, like he didn’t punch me in the face or anything,” she said making a punching motion.
“Did he slap your face or what?” the cop asked.
“Well he like grabbed me with his nail, which I guess is why I have a cut right here I can feel it, when I touch it it burns,” she responded.
Petito said that she and Laundrie got into a fight in which he got frustrated and locked her out of the car to take a “breather.” She said she wanted to get going because they were out of water.
The footage also showed the same police officer on the phone with a witness who saw Petito and Laundrie allegedly fight at a grocery store.
The witness reiterated multiple times that something seemed very “off” to him.
When asked if the witness saw Laundrie strike Petito the witness said, “I wouldn’t say that, I think that probably maybe a push or a shove, but not like a full on punch to the face or anything.”
-ABC News' Lissette Rodriguez and Henderson Hewes