Florida

Laundrie Family Issues 5-Word Statement on Gabby Petito's Death; Brian Is Still Missing

The developments come as North Port police, who are still searching for Brian Laundrie in a vast Florida nature preserve, described the case as an 'FBI-led criminal investigation' Tuesday for the first time

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What to Know

  • FBI agents and police swarmed Brian Laundrie's Florida home Monday as they investigate the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito. Investigators have also found a hard drive in the couple's van
  • Laundrie returned home alone in that van on Sept. 1; he has been missing for a full week. Police resumed their search Tuesday of a vast Florida nature preserve where he allegedly said he was going to hike
  • Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11, months after the couple left on their cross-country trek; a body matching her description was found Sunday in a Wyoming national park. A coroner confirmed that the body found is indeed Petito

"May Gabby Rest In Peace."

Those are the only words in the statement issued by the family of Brian Laundrie after a coroner confirmed on Tuesday that the body found in a Wyoming national park over the weekend was that of Gabby Petito. Her death was ruled a homicide.

That brief statement comes after the attorney for Gabby Petito's family released a short statement of their own before the young woman's family learned the grim result from the autopsy.

"I want to personally thank the press and news media for giving the Petito and Schmidt family time to grieve," lawyer Richard Stafford said, referring to Petito's mom, dad, stepfather and stepmother. "We will be making a statement when Gabby is home. I will contact you to arrange a time and location."

While the autopsy results are still pending, the FBI has already said it believes the remains found in Grand Teton National Park Sunday are Petito's. A mysterious stone cross was discovered in the campground where the body was found.

Their biggest question right now: Where is Brian Laundrie?

Police in North Port, Florida, Laundrie's hometown, launched a renewed search for him in the 25,000-acre Carlton Preserve on Tuesday, a day after they said they were suspending the effort because they believed they had exhausted all avenues. They started searching early in the day. As of early afternoon, nothing had been found.

Laundrie's parents have said they haven't seen their son since last Tuesday, when he said he was going to the preserve for a hike. They have since spoken to law enforcement officers as federal and local agents intensify their search for answers.

Petito's family has said they believe Laundrie's family knew more than they let on.

Remains that could be missing Long Islander Gabby Petito have been found though the identity of the remains has not been confirmed. As news of the social media creator's disappearance spread, interest in her surged, says NBC New York reporter Kay Angrum.

In a previously released letter from Petito's parents to Laundrie's parents five days ago, the Long Island woman's family begged for help finding "our beautiful daughter."

"We believe you know the location where Brian left Gabby. We beg you to tell us. As a parent how could you let us go through this pain and not help us. As a parent how could you put Gabby’s younger brothers and sisters through this," it read in part.

The Laundrie family, through their attorney, released a statement after officials announced the discovery of a body matching Petito's description in Grand Teton National Park, where the couple visited, calling the news "heartbreaking." They said they were praying for Petito and her family -- as they search for their own son.

The Laundrie family has said they hadn't seen their son in a full week, since they told officers he want to Florida's sprawling Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre park with difficult terrain, according to North Port police, for a hike and never returned.

North Port police scoured that nature preserve all weekend and came up empty. They said Tuesday their search would resume with a different locational approach.

It wasn't immediately clear what sparked the renewed search on Tuesday, but police for the first time called the case an "FBI-led criminal investigation" as they announced their plans.

The mystery around the disappearances of both Petito and Laundrie has captured national headlines and drawn massive law enforcement attention in multiple states.

Laundrie returned home to Florida alone in that van on Sept. 1, 10 days before Petito's mother reported her missing. A search of that van yielded a hard drive believed to contain evidence connected to Petito's disappearance, according to a filing of a search warrant in Florida. It's not yet clear what that drive holds.

A day after Gabby Petito's body was found in Wyoming, there were stunning new developments in the missing person case that has been drawing nationwide attention. Pei-Sze Cheng reports from Florida, and Sarah Wallace has the latest from Wyoming.
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