Body found in Wyoming consistent with Gabby Petito’s description
The remains of a body found in rural Wyoming are consistent with the description of Long Island woman Gabby Petito, who disappeared on a young lovers’ New York-to-Oregon road trip with her fiancé, authorities said Sunday.
“A full forensic examination has not been concluded to confirm that is her 100%, but her family has been notified,” a somber Charles Jones, senior FBI agent in Wyoming, said at a news conference that pointed to an increasingly grim prospect. “Cause of death has not been confirmed at this time.”
Sunday’s chilling announcement came amid a frenzied hunt for both the 22-year-old Petito and her Florida fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23.
The last time Petito’s family said they heard from the petite young blonde was in late August, when she was visiting Grand Teton National Park during her trip with Laundrie that began on Long Island and aimed to end in Oregon.
Petito’s family said they last spoke with their beloved daughter on Aug. 23.
Laundrie arrived — alone — at his parents home in North Port, Fla., on Sept. 1.
On Sept. 11, the desperate Petito family reported her missing.
The search intensified Saturday, when the FBI from Denver said they were focusing on ground surveys of Grand Teton National Park in the search for the young woman. They were helped by both National Park Services officials as well as local law enforcement.
Authorities searched an unrefined camping site on the park’s eastern boundary, near Spread Creek, where another Florida couple passing through the area in the early evening of Aug. 27. filmed what appears to be the white van Petito and Laundrie were driving.
The van had Sunshine State plates.
Meanwhile, in North Port, Fla., where Laurie’s family lives, police are calling Laundrie a “person of interest” in the wrenching disappearance, and previously insisted: “He is not wanted for a crime.”
Yet in an ominous tweet Sunday, the same authorities appeared to have accepted an awful prospect.
“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.”
Teton County coronor, Dr. Brent Blue, told CNN an autopsy is set for Tuesday, saying officials would confirm the identity through photographs, personal identification or DNA.
The anguish of the Petito family has since taken on a bitter turn toward Laundrie.
Richard Stafford, an attorney for the Petito family, said in a brief statement to CNN, “All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding.”
Earlier Sunday, dozens of Florida law enforcement officials began a second day of combing through a 24,000 square-acre wildlife park on the Gulf Coast in search of Laundrie, whose family said they last saw him Tuesday.
The search effort included the use of drones and bloodhounds who used articles of Laundrie’s clothing taken from his home to get his scent, authorities said on Saturday. Police initially focused their search in a nearby, 200-acre park before expanding to the rest of the reserve.
Petito’s relatives had unsuccessfully pleaded with the Laundrie family to tell them when and where their son last saw their adored Gabby.
The pair had packed into a 2012 Fort Transit Connect van in Long Island July 2, the childhood sweethearts aiming to drive to Oregon by the end of October, their social media accounts said.
On Sunday night, Gabby Petito’s dad shared a photo of his precious daughter in front of painted angel wings. Joseph Petito captioned the Instagram image, “she touched the world,” along with a broken heart emoji.
“As every parent can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult time for the family and friends,” Jones said at the Sunday news conference. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We ask that you all respect their privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter.”
Later, Stafford echoed the call to let Gabby’s family grieve in private — and thanked the FBI, Suffolk County Police Department, North Port, Fla., Police Department and the Grand Teton Search and Rescue Team for helping “bring Gabby home to her parents.”