What to Know
- A county coroner confirmed human remains found in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park are Gabby Petito and ruled her death a homicide. It's not yet clear how exactly she died; that's pending more analysis
- The FBI's prime person of interest, her fiancé Brian Laundrie, has been missing for more than a week since telling his family he was going for a hike in a sprawling Florida nature preserve
- Cops returned to that swampy 25,000-acre area Thursday for a third straight day as they continue their search for him
Law enforcement officers and specialized dive teams returned to a Florida nature preserve for the third straight day Thursday in hopes of finding the fiancé of Gabby Petito, the young woman who officials say was killed while on a road trip with him.
That fiance, Brian Laundrie, hasn't been seen since last Tuesday, Sept. 14, when he told his family he was going to the sprawling Carlton Preserve for a hike.
Investigators searched for him there over the course of the weekend, temporarily suspended their operations Monday and got back on the ground Tuesday. Thursday marks the latest day in the renewed search effort. Nothing has been found yet.
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Roughly 75 personnel from 16 different agencies were on the ground searching the 25,000-acre nature reserve, an area that includes swampy subtropical terrain replete with alligators, snakes, bobcats and other wildlife. There are more than 100 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, plus multiple camping areas and rivers.
Drones were also sent to aid in Thursday's aerial quest to find Laundrie. All-terrain searches were expected to continue until dark, as has been the case the last few days. As for whether the Carlton Reserve search would continue Friday, Josh Taylor, a spokesman for the North Port police department, said simply, "TBD."
It's not clear how long investigators plan to keep looking for Laundrie in this particular area -- or where they might look for him next if they don't find him there.
Laundrie vanished nine days ago. That was three days after Petito's mother reported her missing and well before the young woman's body was found in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. Her death was ruled a homicide.
The couple had set out in a white van in July on a cross-country trek visiting national parks. Laundrie returned to his Florida home in that van on Sept. 1.
He was alone.
It wasn't until 10 days later, on Sept. 11, that Petito's family grew concerned they hadn't heard from her in a few days and filed a missing persons report. As it turns out, her cellphone had been off for much longer -- since Aug. 27, records show.
Do you know anything that can help investigators? Call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit tips online here
Teton County Coroner Brent Blue classified Petito's death as a homicide — meaning her death was caused by another person — but did not disclose how she was killed. That is pending further study. Laundrie, 23, is not charged with any crime but is considered the FBI's prime person of interest in the case.
With online sleuths and theories multiplying by the day, the FBI and police have been deluged with tips about possible Laundrie sightings. Taylor said none have so far panned out.
Petito and Laundrie grew up together in Long Island, New York, but moved in recent years to North Port, where his parents live. Their home, about 35 miles south of Sarasota, was searched by investigators earlier this week and a Ford Mustang driven by Laundrie's mother was towed from the driveway. Authorities believe Laundrie drove that car to the Carlton Reserve before disappearing.
His family allegedly went to look for him there when he didn't return home and drove the car back.
Federal and local law enforcement continue to ask the public for tips. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI or visit tips.fbi.gov.