Body found in Wyoming is believed to be missing woman Gabby Petito

Updated September 19, 2021, 9:15 p.m. ET

MOOSE, Wyo. – Authorities say a body found in Wyoming Sunday is believed to be Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, who went missing while hiking across the country with a boyfriend. Brian Laundrie, her boyfriend, has been identified by authorities as a person of interest and is now wanted in a Florida nature reserve.

The FBI said the body was found by law enforcement officers who had spent the past two days searching campgrounds.

The cause of death has not yet been determined, said FBI Special Surveillance Agent Charles Jones.

“Full forensic identification has not been done to 100% confirm that we have found Gabby, but her family has been made aware,” Jones said. “It is an incredibly difficult time for (Petito) family and friends.”

A lawyer who acted as a spokesperson for Petito’s family asked in a statement that the family be given an opportunity to mourn.

Attorney Richard Benson Stafford said the family would make a public statement at a later date, and he thanked officials from the FBI, Grand Teton Search and Rescue and other agencies who were involved 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 Grand Teton bordering national forest lands will remain closed until further notice while the investigation continues, Jones said.

Jones said investigators were still seeking information from anyone who might have seen Petito or Laundrie around the campsites, the same area that was the subject of law enforcement search efforts over the weekend.

Petito and Laundrie, left in July for a hike across the country in a converted van to visit the national parks of the western United States. Police said Laundrie was alone when he drove the van back to his parents’ home in North Port, Fla. On September 1.

Laundrie has been identified as a person of interest in the case. He was last seen on Tuesday by family members in Florida.

More than 50 law enforcement officers began a second day of laundry search on Sunday at the 24,000-acre (9,712-hectare) Carlton Preserve in Sarasota County, Fla., A wildlife preserve with more than 160 kilometers of trails. , as well as the campgrounds.

Petito’s family filed a September 11 missing persons report with police in Suffolk County, New York.

Petito’s family had begged the Laundrie family to tell them where their son had last seen her. Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweethearts who met growing up in Long Island, New York. His parents then moved to North Port, about 55 kilometers south of Sarasota.

The couple’s hike in the Ford Transit van began in July from Long Island. They intended to reach Oregon by the end of October, according to their social media accounts, but Petito disappeared after his last known contact with his family in late August from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. , the authorities said.

Police video released by the Moab Utah Police Department showed an officer stopped the van on August 12 after he was seen speeding up and hitting a sidewalk near the entrance to the Arches National Park. Body camera video showed an emotional Petito, who sat inside a police car while officers also questioned Laundrie.

Moab Police ultimately decided not to lay any charges and instead separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking in at a motel and Petito staying with the converted van sleeper.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.


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Joseph D. Whitman

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