In a development that appeared to draw a line under part of a sprawling drama – even as other elements continued – a senior FBI agent said human remains matching a description of the young woman were found at a campsite, located about 20 miles north of Jackson.
FBI Senior Advisory Agent Charles Jones said on Sunday afternoon that although there had not yet been 100% identification of the remains, authorities had notified Ms Petito’s parents, to whom he sent his condolences.
“The cause of death has not been determined at this time,” Mr Jones said, his voice faltering at times.
“We appreciate your continued support and patience as we work through this process. “
Ms. Petito, 22, has been missing since last month. She had taken a cross-country trip from her native Long Island with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, 23 – who drove his van back to Florida without her.
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Authorities had focused their search on the scattered Spread Creek Road camp in Grand Teton National Park. National Park Service rangers barred the public and media from entering the site, while campers using it were to be left by the time the search began on Saturday.
The campsite was thought to be one of many that Ms. Petito had listed among those they planned to visit.
Late Saturday, a couple, on a road trip across America, posted a video showing the white Ford Transit van used by Ms Petito and her boyfriend parked at the campsite that was being searched by the FBI.
The video was posted by Jenn and Kyle Bethune, who converted a 1983 sliver eagle bus to hit the road, and posted video updates on their Red White & Bethune page, captioned “America Showing through our Lens “.
“It’s in the scattered Spread Creek camping area. We got there and there was a huge gravel lot and we decided we wanted to try driving further back because we had heard the view was better here. So we were back on this long dirt and gravel road, ”said Bethune, recounting the video he posted on Saturday night.
His wife continued, “And we came across a white pickup truck that had Florida plates, a little white pickup truck. We were going to stop and say hello because we are also from Florida, but the van was completely dark, there was no one there, so we decided to continue on our way.
At Sunday’s press conference, Charles thanked the audience for their help.
“We appreciate the huge support from the public. The support for the public response to the tip request has been remarkable, ”he said. “We continue to seek information from anyone using the scattered Spread Creek camping area between the dates of August 27 and 30. “
After, requested by The independent How important this information had been, he said: “It was vital.”
Mr. Laundrie himself was reported missing on Friday by his parents. He had been declared a person of interest in Ms Petito’s disappearance but refused to speak to investigators before her disappearance.
The couple had been involved in an altercation last month in Moab, Utah, and police responded, but no charges were filed. He and Ms. Petito had documented their journey from coast to coast on social media.
“I can confirm that the coroners’ officer was dispatched by an assistant coroner to the scene to recover a body that was found in the forest,” Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said on Sunday.
While authorities held a press conference announcing the possible tragic discovery in Wyoming, authorities in Florida continued to search the area where Laundrie was located. His family said they last saw him on Tuesday, but did not report any problems to police for several days.