Is Gabby Petito dead? Body found in Wyoming forest believed to be missing NY vlogger
Full forensic ID of the remains found will be able to prove if it belongs to Gabby Petito and an autopsy to determine cause of death is also pending
The long and desperate search for Gabby Petito has come to an end, the FBI believes. On September 19, the bureau released a statement saying it had found remains "consistent with the description of Gabrielle Petito." The remains were recovered from close to Spread Creek Dispersed camping area at the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Full forensic ID has not yet been completed, and an autopsy to determine the cause of death is also pending.
The development comes just days after boyfriend Brian Laundrie, a person of interest in the case, escaped police and media and went missing. He was reportedly not seen since September 14 but confirmed missing only on September 17. That led police to search the nearby Carlton reserve for Laundrie, but with no luck so far. Laundrie's long silence before his disappearance has reportedly hampered the investigation, but it appears it is finally at an end.
The body believed to be Petito's was recovered after a joint operation by the FBI, National Park Service, US Forest Service, Teton County Sheriff's Office, and Jackson Police Department. While a positive ID is yet to be made, the FBI did add a condolence message to Petito's family in its statement, indicating it is pretty confident the body is that of Petito. More details are awaited, so there's little we know for now.
Gabby Petito's body recovered
The body was recovered from an undeveloped camping area, near the eastern boundary of the park. The entire area was sealed off two days ago when authorities first began their search. It will remain closed off "until further notice", the FBI confirmed. Authorities are also urging people to come forward if they were in the area between August 27 and 30, when Petito and Laundrie were believed to have been in the area.
The discovery indicates Petito never left Grant Teton National Park, where she was last seen. On August 25, Petito's van was seen at Lake Jenny in the park and about 33 miles from Spread Creek. It also proves, in part, that the final text sent from Petito's phone to her mother, indicating she was in Yosemite, was sent by someone else. As we reported, Petito was supposed to head to Yellowstone National Park to meet a friend, whom she was to call on August 29. That call was never made, so it is possible Petito was dead the same day or before.
While we know Petito never left Wyoming, there's still a lot we don't know. It's unclear how Petito died, and exactly when. There's also the question of Brian Laundrie's role, which could now become even more significant given the development. An attorney who has been acting as spokesperson for the Petito family could not be reached for comment as per the Associated Press. Laundrie's family too has not reacted to the update.
More details with be forthcoming, the FBI confirmed. "The live update has concluded and we will share a recording soon. Our statement is attached & we have no additional comment at this time," the FBI said in a tweet with its statement. It also added, "#FBIDenver & our partners extend our condolences to Gabby's family. We thank the public for your generous support of this investigation."
The live update has concluded and we will share a recording soon. Our statement is attached & we have no additional comment at this time. #FBIDenver & our partners extend our condolences to Gabby's family. We thank the public for your generous support of this investigation. pic.twitter.com/kZiSVmJtqv— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) September 19, 2021
The hunt for Laundrie is still ongoing after he was last spotted walking behind his house in North Port, Florida on September 17. It's unclear where he has gone, but if he's hiding out in the Carlton forest it could be a while before he is found. The 25k-acre park has numerous trails and its thick forest cover makes it hard for helicopters to be used. More than 50 North Port police officers, FBI agents, and members of other law enforcement agencies have been roped in to search the park over the weekend, but with little luck so far.