Body found in Wyoming believed to be that of missing traveler Gabby Petito
Authorities say a body discovered Sunday in Wyoming is believed to be that of missing traveler Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, who disappeared while on a cross-country trek with a boyfriend who has been identified by authorities as a person of interest and is being sought at a Florida nature preserve.
The FBI said the body was found by law enforcement agents who had spent two days searching campgrounds. The cause of death has not been determined, said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Charles Jones.
“Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified,” Jones said. “This is an incredibly difficult time for [Petito’s] family and friends.”
Attorney Richard Benson Stafford indicated that the family would make a public statement at a later date and thanked officials with the FBI, Teton County Search and Rescue and other agencies that participated in the search for Petito.
“The family and I will be forever grateful,” Stafford said in a statement.
An undeveloped camping area on the east side of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, bordering national forest land, will remain closed while the investigation continues, Jones said. He added that investigators are seeking information from anyone who may have seen Petito or her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, in the area.
Petito and Laundrie in July left New York’s Long Island for a cross-country trek in a converted van to visit national parks in the Western U.S. Police said Laundrie was alone Sept. 1 when he drove the van back to his parents’ home in North Port, Fla.
Laundrie has been identified as a person of interest in the case. He was last seen Tuesday by family members in Florida.
More than 50 law enforcement officers on Sunday started a second day of searching for Laundrie at the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County, Fla., a wildlife area with more than 100 miles of trails, as well as campgrounds.
Petito’s family filed a missing persons report Sept. 11 with police in Suffolk County, N.Y. They had been pleading for the Laundrie family to tell them where their son last saw her.
Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts on Long Island; his parents later moved to North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota.
After leaving Long Island in July in a Ford Transit van, the couple intended to reach Oregon by the end of October, according to their social media accounts, but Petito vanished after her last known contact with family in late August from Grand Teton National Park, authorities said.
Body-camera video released by the Moab Police Department in Utah showed that an officer pulled the van over Aug. 12 after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near the entrance to Arches National Park. The video showed an emotional Petito, who sat inside a police cruiser while officers questioned Laundrie.
Moab police decided not to file charges and instead separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking into a motel and Petito remaining with the sleeper van.
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