The desperate search for Gabby Petito may have come to a tragic end on September 19, as human remains believed to be the 22-year-old’s body was found in the vicinity of the Spread Creek dispersed camping area in Wyoming, one of the last places she was known to have been seen alive. The location is just outside of Grand Teton National Park.
Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is still missing after having disappeared from his parents’ North Port, Florida, home on September 14. He drove their Ford Transit van back to Florida from Wyoming without Petito on September 1. Petito’s family reported her missing on September 11. Laundrie had refused to speak to authorities after being named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance on September 15, one day after he went missing.
At an afternoon news conference from the visitor’s center at Grand Teton National Park on September 19, supervisory senior resident agent in Wyoming for FBI Denver, Charles Jones, confirmed the heartbreaking news that a body matching Petito’s description had been found in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. A cause of death has yet to be determined.
Petito and Laundrie set out on a road trip through the American West from her home in Long Island in late June. They spent the month of July exploring various national parks in Utah, including Zion, Bryce and Arches. Petito last communicated with her family on August 30, and the couple’s van was photographed at the dispersed camping site on August 27. She had told her parents the pair were going to visit Yellowstone National Park, but they never made it to that destination.
“First and foremost, on behalf of the FBI personnel and our partners, I would like to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family,” Jones began the news conference.
“Joe and Tara Petito, and Jim and Nicole Schmidt, as every parent can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult time for the family and friends,” he continued. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We ask that you all respect the privacy as they mourn the loss of their daughter.”
Petito’s family’s attorney, Richard Benson Stafford, released a statement to the media that read, “We are asking the press and news media to have some decorum and sensitivity for Gabby’s family and allow them to grieve. I will be in contact with you when Petito’s family is ready to make a public statement.” He added of the authorities who searched for Petito, “Your tireless work and determination helped bring Gabby home to her parents. The family and I will be forever grateful.”
Even though Laundrie is still missing after leaving his parents’ Florida home, the Laundrie family released a statement via their attorney reading: “The news about Gabby Petito is heartbreaking. The Laundrie family prays for Gabby and her family.”
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