The human remains that authorities found Wednesday in Florida’s Carlton Reserve park most likely belong to Brian Laundrie, the missing man whose fiancée Gabby Petito was found fatally strangled last month, the Laundrie family attorney told CNN.
Investigators also found a backpack and a notebook belonging to Laundrie, 23, near the suspected remains while they were searching the Carlton Reserve in North Port, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael McPherson. On Thursday morning, several K-9 units and off-road vehicles were observed entering the reserve to further search the area.
The discovery came on Wednesday morning when Laundrie’s parents and law enforcement searched an area of the reserve that had been underwater but recently reopened to the public. The remains and items were found in the same area that the parents had initially told the FBI to look, family attorney Steven Bertolino told CNN‘s Chris Cuomo.
Bertolino said that “the probability is strong that it is Brian’s remains.”
“It’s quite sad, you can imagine as a parent, finding your son’s belongings alongside some remains. That’s got to be heartbreaking. And I can tell you that they are heartbroken,” he said Wednesday night.
The exhaustive search for Laundrie stretched over a month as authorities tried to piece together what happened to him and Petito during their road trip through the Western US this summer.
Petito, 22, disappeared on the trip amid tensions in their relationship, and her remains were later found in Wyoming near where the couple had last been seen together. Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue ruled her death a homicide and said she died by manual strangulation.
Laundrie, who had returned by himself to his parents’ home in Florida, refused to talk with investigators and then went missing in the nearby nature reserve. He has not been seen since September 13.
He has not been charged in her death, although he was indicted for allegedly using two financial accounts that did not belong to him in the days following her killing.
A medical examiner arrived to the reserve on Wednesday, and a formal identification of the remains could take a while. A source close to the investigation told CNN that the suspected human remains “appear to have been there a while.”
“Based on the condition of the remains, it may take some time to officially identify. It is going to be a very thorough process with the medical examiner,” the source said.
Laundrie’s family had declined to talk publicly following legal advice, but they had directed authorities to where they believed Laundrie may be staying in the reserve, Bertolino said.
The parents — Chris and Roberta Laundrie — joined in the search Wednesday morning and found a bag belonging to their son at the park, which their attorney described as “happenstance.”
According to Bertolino, Laundrie’s parents informed the FBI and the North Port Police Department on Tuesday night that they wanted to visit the park Wednesday morning to search for their son.
Law enforcement met them there and closely accompanied them as they entered the park, Bertolino said.
“As they went further in, Chris ventured off the trail into the woods. He was zigzagging in different areas, law enforcement was doing the same thing. And Roberta Laundrie was walking down the trail,” Bertolino said. “At some point, Chris locates what’s called a dry bag. The dry bag is a white bag, laying in the woods, say 20 feet or so off the trail.”
The dry bag was in some brambles and he didn’t want to move it because he wanted his law enforcement to see it, Bertolino said. However, Chris Laundrie couldn’t find law enforcement and didn’t want to leave the bag there with a news reporter standing nearby, so he picked it up, Bertolino explained.
“He did meet up shortly with law enforcement, they looked at the contents of the bag. At that time, law enforcement officers showed him a picture on the phone of a backpack that law enforcement had located also nearby and also some distance off the trail,” Bertolino told CNN.
“At that point, the Laundries were notified there was also remains near the backpack, and they were asked to leave the preserve.”
The suspected remains were found “about 2 to 3 miles inside the Carlton Reserve, or about a 45-minute walk” from the entrance at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, North Port police spokesperson Josh Taylor said.
When asked why the parents chose to go to the park on Wednesday, Bertolino said it was the first day it was reopened to the public.”
The parents had assumed that the experts, the FBI and all the tracking teams they had would be able to locate Brian based upon the information that we had provided them to the specific areas and trails in the park that Brian liked to visit,” Bertolino said. “The park had been closed to the public. There was really no other reason for the Laundries to go search anywhere else.”
Autopsy of Brian Laundrie: No cause, manner of death able to be determined
TAMPA, Fla. — The attorney for Brian Laundrie’s parents says an autopsy on their son’s remains, which were described as “bones” by North Port police, did not reveal a cause or manner of his death.
Laundrie’s autopsy was completed Friday and his remains was sent to an anthropologist for further examination, according to reporting from FOX 5’s Jodi Goldberg.
The Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, said they were hoping for more answers from law enforcement regarding the cause of death for Brian, who was a person of interest in the death of fiancée Gabby Petito while the couple was on a cross-country road trip.
Read more from Fox Tampa Bay.
‘Basically the case is closed out’: Former FBI agent discusses what finding of Brian Laundrie’s remains means moving forward
With Brian Laundrie’s remains found, a former FBI agent told ABC West Palm Beach (WPBF 25) that in cases where a person of interest is found dead, there will be limited information people will see moving forward.
But in this case, they still have the responsibility to name who killed Gabby Petito.
“Basically the case is closed out, there are still some housekeeping issues to be addressed, it’s important for them to identify the cause of death and even more importantly the time of death,” said Stuart Kaplan, former FBI special agent turned attorney.
Read more from ABC West Palm Beach (WPBF 25).
1 killed, 1 injured after Alec Baldwin discharges prop gun in freak misfire incident on movie set: Sheriff’s Office
A female cinematographer working on the set of an upcoming western, ‘Rust’, died after lead actor and producer Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun. The film’s director was also harmed in the shooting and is in intensive care.
The incident took place around 1:50pm local time on Thursday. Halyna Hutchins, 42, and ‘Rust’ director Joel Souza, 48, were rushed to the hospital from the set on the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a film location in northern New Mexico.
Hutchins, who was director of photography, has since succumbed to her wounds, while Souza “is undergoing treatment for his injuries,” the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department said.
An investigation has been launched over the “projectile” with which the female victim was shot. “It appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged,” the department said in a statement.
In an update on Thursday, it said that “the investigation remains open and active,” noting that “no charges have been filed in regard to this incident” as the witnesses are being questioned.
Baldwin was seen looking visibly distraught at the scene in the aftermath of the shooting.
The actor has reportedly been interviewed by investigators.
Deadline reported earlier that the incident occurred during a rehearsal, and that “a principal cast member… cocked a gun… unaware there were live rounds in it.”
A production spokesman confirmed to Deadline that the incident involved “the misfire of a prop gun with blanks,” insisting that “the safety” of the cast was a “top priority.” The movie town was put on lockdown in wake of the incident.
‘Rust’ is directed by Souza and produced by Baldwin, who also stars as one of the film’s main characters, Harland Rust. Rust is an outlaw and estranged grandfather of a 13-year-old boy, Lucas, played by Brady Noon, who faces hanging after accidentally killing a local rancher. After Harland frees Lucas from custody, the two flee while being chased by a marshal and a bounty hunter.
The on-set mishap is not the first of its kind. While filming for ‘The Crow’ in 1993, Brandon Lee – the son of Bruce Lee – was shot and killed by an improperly loaded prop gun.