Florida Police are searching for Gabby Petito’s missing fiancé, whose body appears to have been found in a wilderness camping area in Wyoming.
The disappearance of 22-year-old Petito during a four-month trip across the country in a van has obsessed the American media. Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23, returned home alone without her and had refused to be questioned by police after the alarm was raised by her family. Laundrie himself was reported missing by his parents on Friday.
Interest in the case was fueled by the apparent disconnect between idealized images of the increasingly popular nomadic ‘van life’ – on social media sites such as Instagram – which the couple had promoted on their social media accounts and the more violent reality that emerged. from police camera footage of an emotional encounter with the couple during a brawl between the two.
Human remains, which the FBI said were most likely those of Petito, were found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sunday, on the eastern edge of Grand Teton National Park.
The body found on Sunday looks like Petito’s description, but the cause of death has not yet been determined, FBI agent Charles Jones said at a press conference.
Jones said Petito’s family had been made aware of the discovery, but authorities would only be able to confirm it was her after a forensic analysis.
“On behalf of the FBI staff and our partners, I would like to express my sincere condolences to Gabby’s family,” Jones said.
“As any parent can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult time for family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We ask you all to respect their privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter. “
Petito last contacted her family to let them know she was in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in August and authorities said she had not heard from since.
Laundrie returned home to their Florida home on September 1 and it was 10 days later that Petito’s family filed a missing person report.
After Petito disappeared, authorities expressed “frustration” at not being able to speak to Laundrie. Police identified him as a person of interest in the case.
According to local police and the FBI, Laundrie, who had refused to be questioned about Petito’s disappearance through a lawyer, went missing over the weekend, with police saying she was searching a large nature reserve in Florida, among others.
Highlighting the mystery of what happened, the Utah Police posted a video of the couple’s traffic stop last week, which showed Petito crying.
Laundrie had admitted that the couple had gotten into a fight after entering the van with dirty feet and described the “emotional strain” of sharing their van’s small space.
However, both asked police to treat the incident as a “mental / emotional health break” rather than a domestic assault, with Petito telling police she was suffering from anxiety.
The body was found after police increasingly focused their search on the scattered Spread Creek Road camp in Grand Teton National Park, one of several that Petito said the couple were planning to visit.
The search of the campsite came after another couple, Jenn and Kyle Bethune, posted a video describing meeting a vehicle similar to the one belonging to Petito and Laundrie in August.
“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 going back on that long dirt and gravel road, ”Bethune said, 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.
Interest in a reduced van life lifestyle has exploded in recent years, driven by social media accounts and vlogs describing an idyllic life on the road and the vehicle conversion business.
Laundrie had posted on Instagram how the couple were “cutting our life in this tiny little van” by decorating it with plants, small works of art and photos.