The remains of Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old young woman who had been on a cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were found on Sunday, marking a milestone in the desperate search for her which began when her parents reported her missing weeks ago.
Law enforcement authorities said the remains found in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest, near Teton National Park, were consistent with a description of Petito, who has been reported missing after Laundrie returned alone from a cross-country van trip that the couple had taken.
The trip across the continent had been shared with social media all along the way. With the Youtube title Nomadic Statik, videos of the adventure were shared with their followers, who went along with the young couple virtually as they made their way across America.
Joseph Petito, Gabby’s father, posted a photo of her on Twitter on Sunday night, with a message saying “She touched the world.”
— joseph petito (@josephpetito) September 19, 2021
FBI agent Charles Jones stated at a Sunday news conference “Earlier today, human remains were discovered, consistent with a description of Gabrielle (Gabby) Petito,” adding that the complete forensic identification process had not yet been finalized.
Jones added “On behalf of the FBI personnel and our partners, I would like to extend sincere, sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family.
“As every parent can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult time for the family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We ask that you all respect their privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter.”
On Monday morning, Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta, were removed from their home by FBI agents, who piled them into a van and left the home after serving a search warrant there.
Petito, originally from Suffolk County, New York, was reported missing by her parents on September 11, after they had lost touch with her during the van trip. At that point, they knew that she was either in or near Grand Teton National Park.
Gabrielle, who went by the nickname of Gabby, was born in 1999; she and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, first met in high school in Suffolk County, New York. Petito, who graduated from Bayport-Blue Point High School in 2017, also lived in Blue Point, New York, before moving in with Laundrie’s parents in North Port, Florida, in 2019.
Gabby Petito Earned Money as Pharmacist Assistant Before Starting Across-Country Adventure
They departed from New York on July 2, 2021, for a four-month-long cross country trip in a white 2012 Ford Transit Connect van that had been converted to a camper. The couple documented their cross-country journey on Petito’s YouTube account as well as their Instagram accounts, with the last video posted three weeks prior to her disappearance.
Laundrie then returned alone to his parent’s residence in North Port, Florida.
Petito’s remains were discovered in the area of the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area, located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the eastern side of Grand Teton National Park, according to the FBI.
Agent Jones added that the campsite will remain closed for the foreseeable future. He added that all those who may have been in the camping area between Aug. 27 and Aug. 30 are now being urged to contact the FBI.
Saddened and heartbroken to learn that Gabby has been found deceased. Our focus from the start, along with the FBI, and national partners, has been to bring her home. We will continue to work with the FBI in the search for more answers.
— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 19, 2021
As of Monday, no cause of death had been pinpointed, according to Jones. Teton County coroner Dr. Brent Blue told the press that an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow.
The spectacular Teton area has been a magnet for campers in the past, with the Spread Creek campground being enlarged this summer due to especially high demand. It is very close to Grand Teton National Park, and its campsites are accessed by a gravel road, according to Mike Koshmrl, a reporter with the Jackson Hole News&Guide.
The New York Times reports that at least three people have disappeared in the Teton County region this summer, including two people who have not yet been found. The area is a magnet for experienced mountain climbers as well, with the massive Grand Teton Range offering some of the best mountain climbing adventures in North America.
No other cases have had anywhere near the same level of national attention, Kosmri states to the Times.
Meanwhile, Laundrie is still missing after his parents told authorities that they had not seen him in days.
After being declared a “person of interest” by the police, Laundrie had declined, through a lawyer, to speak with investigators regarding the case. After his parents reported him missing authorities, a desperate search for him began that included looking through the underbrush of an enormous wildlife refuge in Florida that is close to his parents’ home.
The North Port Police Department said they were “saddened and heartbroken to learn that Gabby has been found deceased.”
Neither the lawyers for the Petito family nor Brian Laundrie immediately responded to requests for comment on Sunday night, according to the Times.
A 24,565-acre park in Sarasota County called the Carlton Reserve is now the epicenter of the search for Laundrie. North Port, Florida police stated after their search of the Reserve on Sunday that there was nothing new to report.
“We will continue to work with the FBI in the search for more answers,” they added.
After after Petito was reported missing, law enforcement authorities expressed “frustration” after their efforts to speak to Laundrie, who has not been declared a suspect in the case, had been fruitless.
The couple had shared their apparently carefree, adventurous “van life” trip through the American West before her disappearance after leaving New York on July 2 for what was supposed to be a four-month-long cross-country trip to see national parks, according to Jim Schmidt, Petito’s stepfather.
However, relations between the two soured in Moab, Utah, according to law enforcement reports. On Auguse 12, police officers in Moab, Utah responded to a complaint regarding of a “domestic problem” after they stated that Laundrie had “some sort of argument” with Petito and told her to take a walk to calm down.
At that time, the 23-year-old Laundrie admitted to an officer that “issues between the two had been building over the last few days,” according to that police report.
While police were witnessing the aftermath of that encounter, Petito cried, telling them that she suffered from anxiety, according to body camera footage. Petito is recorded in the police report as saying that she was about to slap Laundrie because she was afraid that he “was going to leave her in Moab without a ride.”
Both Laundrie and Petito told authorities at the time that the episode should be classified as a “mental/emotional health ‘break,’” and not as a domestic assault, according to the police report.
The report includes the police saying that Laundrie was the victim of that incident. Police arranged for him to stay at a hotel for that night while Petito stayed in the van, which was registered to her. No charges were filed at that time.