The hunt for Brian Laundrie appears to have ended.
Human remains found in a Florida nature reserve are most likely those of Laundrie, said Steven Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family, according to CNN.
Laundrie has been the subject of an intense manhunt in connection with the death of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, who was found dead in Wyoming in September. Petito and Laundrie were traveling together in a relationship that was marked by multiple reported incidents in late August. Petito was last seen on Aug. 27.
Laundrie returned to Florida alone on Sept. 1, which is within the time frame for when a coroner has said Petito was strangled. Laundrie was last seen on Sept. 13. His parents have said he was heading to the Carlton Nature Reserve in Sarasota County, which is where human remains — as well as objects belonging to Laundrie — were found Wednesday.
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The items found included a backpack and a notebook, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson said, according to CNN.
“The probability is strong, that it is Brian’s remains,” Bertolino told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday, CNN reported.
“It’s quite sad, you can imagine as a parent, finding your son’s belonging alongside from the remains. That’s got to be heartbreaking. And I can tell you that they are heartbroken.”
CNN quoted what it said was a source as saying the remains were in poor condition and “appear to have been there a while.”
“Based on the condition of the remains, it may take some time to officially identify. It is going to be a very thorough process with the medical examiner,” the source said.
The remains were found in a place that until recently had been covered by water, CNN reported.
Bertolino said Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, had told police they wanted to join the search on Wednesday. He said it was “happenstance” that the Laundries were in the nature reserve when the remains were found.
“As they went further in, Chris ventured off the trail into the woods. He was zigzagging in different areas, law enforcement was doing the same thing. And Roberta Laundrie was walking down the trail,” Bertolino said.
“At some point, Chris locates what’s called a dry bag. The dry bag is a white bag, laying in the woods, say 20 feet or so off the trail,” he said.
Bertolino said Chris Laundrie first wanted to report the find to authorities but told him that he did not want to leave the bag unguarded while he searched for police because there was a reporter near.
“He did meet up shortly with law enforcement, they looked at the contents of the bag. At that time, law enforcement officers showed him a picture on the phone of a backpack that law enforcement had located also nearby and also some distance off the trail,” Bertolino said.
“At that point, the Laundries were notified there was also remains near the backpack, and they were asked to leave the preserve,” he said.
Bertolino said there was nothing sinister about the parents deciding to join the search on the day their son’s remains were found, and that they went because the reserve had just been reopened to the public.
“The parents had assumed that the experts, the FBI, and all the tracking teams they had would be able to locate Brian based upon the information that we had provided them to the specific areas and trails in the park that Brian liked to visit,” Bertolino said.
“The park had been closed to the public. There was really no other reason for the Laundries to go search anywhere else,” he said.
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