The body found in a U.S. national park in Wyoming has been officially identified as Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old young woman who went missing during a road trip with her fiance and that her death was a homicide, the FBI said on Tuesday.
“Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999. Coroner Blue’s initial determination for the manner of death is homicide,” the FBI’s Denver office said on Twitter. “The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results.
Investigators have called Laundrie, 23, a “person of interest” in the case. Brian Laundrie has not been seen since leaving his family’s home in North Port, Florida, last Tuesday. Before disappearing, Laundrie refused to speak with investigators and retained a lawyer.
North Port police said Tuesday that they had resumed their search of the swampy reserve. The police previously called off the search after “exhausting all avenues” to find Laundrie. Laundrie’s family said they believed he entered the area last week, according to police.
Police and FBI agents on Sunday said they found a body that was “consistent” with the 5’5, 110-pound Petito in a remote area of Bridger-Teton National Forest, less than 1,000 feet (300 meters) from where a pair of travel bloggers filmed the couple’s white van parked along a dirt road near Spread Creek on the evening of Aug. 27.
Petito and Laundrie left her home state of New York in late June or early July, heading west in the van with plans to visit national parks along the way and documenting their “van life” trip on social media.
Petito was last seen leaving a Salt Lake City hotel on Aug. 24 and posted her last photo to social media the following day. Her family believes she was headed to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming when they last heard from her.
In seeking search warrants, investigators have cited an Aug. 27 text purportedly sent by Petito to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, which describes getting repeated calls and voice messages from “Stan,” Petito’s grandfather.
Schmidt told investigators that message was odd because the young woman would not usually refer to her grandfather by his first name. Petito’s family has said a second text message also seemed suspicious.
Last week, police in Moab, Utah, released body camera footage of an Aug. 12 encounter two of their officers had with the couple during a traffic stop.
In the video, Petito is sobbing as she describes a quarrel with Laundrie that she says became physical at times. The officers did not detain the couple but insisted they spend that night separately, Petito in the van and Laundrie at a hotel.
A 911 call was also released of a witness who said before that stop they saw Brian slapping Gabby.