TAMPA (WFLA) – Gabby Petito’s parents met with agents at the FBI Tampa field office on Thursday before the FBI shared its findings that the only person of interest in the investigation — Brian Laundrie — was involved in their daughter’s tragic death.
“The investigation did not identify any other individuals other than Brian Laundrie directly involved in the tragic death of Gabby Petito,” said Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider of the FBI Denver Division. “The FBI’s primary focus throughout the investigation was to bring justice to Gabby and her family. The public’s role in helping us in this endeavor was invaluable as the investigation was covered in the media around the world.”
Another major revelation from the FBI’s final update on the investigation is that they discovered “written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death” in the notebook recovered near his remains in the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County, Florida.
After Petito’s death, FBI agents said they found several text messages between Laundrie and Petito’s phones.
“The timing and content of these messages are indicative of Mr. Laundrie attempting to deceive law enforcement by giving the impression that Ms. Petito was still alive,” the FBI said.
The FBI has been the lead agency investigating the Petito case for several months now. Petito was found dead in Wyoming about a week after she was reported missing by concerned family members who had not heard from her since the end of August. Petito and Laundrie were on a road trip out west at the time.
Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 by family members who said they lost communication with her and were not getting answers from Laundrie’s family. The FBI said it started investigating on Sept. 12 and launched a search for Petito. On Sept. 19, the FBI announced that authorities recovered Petito’s remains at a camping area in Wyoming’s Bridger Teton National Forrest. That was three weeks after her last known communication.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue ruled Petito’s death a homicide and determined the cause of death was “blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation.”
“Unfortunately this is only one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence,” Dr. Blue said after releasing the autopsy findings.
Laundrie returned home to North Port without Petito on Sept. 1, according to police. The FBI said he used Petito’s debit card while he was driving back to Florida from Wyoming. A federal arrest warrant was later issued for Laundrie in connection with the use of her card. By that time, Laundrie’s parents reported their son missing to police in North Port, Florida.
After an extensive month-long search at the park where he told his parents he went hiking, the FBI announced they located what appeared to be Laundrie’s remains and personal belongings, including the notebook with the written confession.
The Sarasota County Medical examiner confirmed the remains belonged to Laundrie and said he died by self-inflicted gunshot.
As the FBI closes this high-profile case, agents revealed they also found a revolver near Laundrie’s remains.
“We truly appreciate the FBI’s diligent and painstaking efforts in this extremely complicated case,” Petito family attorney Richard Stafford said in a statement. “The quality and quantity of the facts and information collected by the FBI leave no doubt Brian Laundrie murdered Gabby.”
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In memory of their daughter, Petito’s parents have formed a foundation, the mission of which is to help find missing people and support organizations assisting domestic violence victims.