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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After weeks of searching, authorities located partial human remains in the Carlton Reserve on Wednesday, along with items that the FBI said belong to Brian Laundrie, the person of interest in the murder of his fiancée Gabby Petito.
“Earlier today, investigators found what appears to be human remains, along with personal items such as a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie,” Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson of the Tampa FBI office said at a news conference Wednesday.
“I know you have a lot of questions but we don’t have all the answers yet,” McPherson added. “We are working diligently to get those answers for you.”
According to North Port police spokesman Josh Taylor, the remains were found about 2 to 3 miles into the Carlton Reserve, about a 45-minute walk from the entrance to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, a heavily-wooded area that connects to the reserve. On Wednesday, the Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office said it had been called to Myakkahatchee. Both entrances of the park were blocked off, and the FBI, North Port police, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office were at the site.
An attorney for Brian Laundrie’s family told CNN’s Chris Cuomo the remains found at the reserve were likely those of Laundrie. Steve Bertolino said there was a “strong probability” the remains were Brian’s, but wanted to wait for forensics to weigh in.
According to Bertolino, Laundrie’s father, Chris, had found a bag containing some of Brian’s items and officers found his backpack and the remains on the other side of trail.
“Chris and Roberta will wait for the forensic identification of the human remains before making any additional comments,” Bertolino told 8 On Your Side Wednesday.
It still may be a while before authorities confirm whether or not the remains are Laundrie’s. In terms of the timeline, investigators told NBC’s Sam Brock it will take around 48 hours, maybe less. It could take less time if investigators were able to establish a DNA profile when they searched Laundrie’s parents home last month. If they have a fingerprint, they may be able to identify his remains in a matter of hours. With a dental imprint, it could take a day. If they have to extract DNA from the bones, it could take about a week, investigators told Brock.
Laundrie is the only person of interest in the murder of his fiancée Gabby Petito, who was found dead last month a week after being reported missing.
The couple had set off on a cross-country trip across the United States in July, and documented their travels online. Police said Laundrie returned home to North Port without Petito on Sept. 1. Her family reported her missing on Sept. 11.
Petito’s remains were found on Sept. 19 at a campground in Wyoming. A coroner said earlier this month that the 22-year-old had been strangled to death.
Laundrie is wanted for unauthorized use of a debit card. A federal grand jury indictment alleges he withdrew or spent $1,000 after Petito went missing, using a debit card that wasn’t his.
Laundrie’s parents say their son went for a hike in the nearly 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve on Sept. 13 and never returned.
Local and federal agencies have spent more than a month combing the vast reserve and the park hoping to find him.