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Another Gabby Petito? Body of missing Brynn Bills, 18, found buried in Michigan home

Brynn Bills, 18, had been missing since August. Bills' body was identified with the help of her tattoos, just like in missing Gabby Petito's case
UPDATED SEP 30, 2021
Michigan teen Brynn Bills Bills, 18, had been missing since early August (lex/Twitter)
Michigan teen Brynn Bills Bills, 18, had been missing since early August (lex/Twitter)

ALPENA COUNTY, MICHIGAN: An 18-year-old woman from Michigan, Brynn Bills, was reported missing in early August. Michigan State Police announced on Wednesday, September 29, that human remains were found buried in the backyard of a home in Alpena Township and are believed to be that of Bills'. The remains were identified based on the woman's tattoos.

Western Michigan University has received the remains and will conduct an autopsy. A cause of death has not been determined yet. A criminal investigation is underway, and State police are calling the death suspicious. Bills' case is remarkably similar to the recent case of missing Long Island native Gabby Petito, whose body was discovered in Grand Teton Park near Wyoming. She had been reported missing after she went on a trip with her fiance Brian Laundrie. Petito's body was also identified with the help of her tattoos since decomposition had made the autopsy difficult. 



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When Bills went missing in August, her father, Duane Bills, had offered a $20,000 reward for information that could help find his daughter. After her remains were discovered, Duane took to Facebook to announce the update, writing, "It's with a heavy heart I'm letting everyone know we did find brynns body yesterday around 4:30 pm. We are still actively seeking any information on what has transpired and we are not exactly sure of the cause of her death. So if anyone has any legit information please come forward so we can bring the people that harmed my daughter to justice. We are not done Brynn Bills with the people who shortened your life. love you brynn with all my heart. (#justiceforbrynn)".


Bills' body was found on the property of 34-year-old Joshua Jay Wirgau, who has been named a person of interest in the case. Wirgau was arrested on unrelated charges days before. Michigan Sex Offender Registry has confirmed that Wirgau is a registered sex offender who was convicted in February 2009 of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree of a person between the ages of 13 and 15. In May of the same year, he was again convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree.

At present, Wirgau is being held in the Alpena County Jail. He is being held without bond in connection with an incident that happened earlier this week. He has been charged with unlawful imprisonment and felonious assault. State police said there are other persons of interest who they are talking to in connection with their investigation.

Not much information is available on Bills, but what we do know from her Instagram profile is that she had been in a relationship with Austin Meese. Her bio reads 'Stay trippy lil hippie', accompanied by "𝐻𝒾𝓈 ➳ @austin.meese5602", with a lock and a heart emoji. 9 and 10 News reported that a search warrant was being executed by state police on Naylor Road in Alpena Township in connection with the teen's death after they received an anonymous tip. 

“The tip led us to an area where we had seen that there was some fresh dirt and something that looked like it had been dug up recently. So it was easy to locate, there were several spots on the property like that, so we narrowed our search to those and that’s where we found the body,” said First Lt John Grimshaw, with the Michigan State Police. “To find the patch of dirt, it was pretty evident so it didn’t take long to see the locations of interest to us to look, (but) it took us a long time to find the remains and to get her out of there.”

Meanwhile, the death of Long island's Petito is still under investigation. Police are on the lookout for Laundrie, whose whereabouts are unknown at present. Petito's death was ruled a homicide but her autopsy results are yet to be revealed.