gabby petito's fiance
Gabrielle Petito, 22, who was reported missing on September 11, 2021 after traveling with her boyfriend around the country in a van and never returned home, poses for a photo with Brian Laundrie in this undated handout photo. North Port/Florida Police/Handout via REUTERS

Human remains were found on Wednesday in a Florida wilderness area where authorities were searching for Brian Laundrie, the fiance of Gabby Petito, a young Blue Point woman who vanished on a road trip with Laundrie, the FBI announced at a news conference.

The Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office was called on Wednesday morning to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park where the search for Laundrie was under way, a spokesperson for the office said. The spokesperson declined to comment on the reported human remains found in the park.

The FBI was processing a scene in Carlton Reserve, which is near the park, it said on Twitter. The agency said, “Items of interest were located at the Carlton Reserve” on Wednesday morning in connection with the search for Laundrie.

Petito’s disappearance last month during a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend captivated the country, first as an internet sensation and then as a tabloid mystery that grew more enigmatic by the day.

Petito was killed by strangulation, a local coroner said earlier this month.

Petito, 22, was last seen alive on Aug. 26. Her body was discovered near the remote Spread Creek Dispersed Campground in Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming.

Petito and Laundrie, who lived with Laundrie‘s parents in North Port on Florida’s west coast, embarked on their trip in early July from New York’s Long Island, where her parents live.

As they traveled through Kansas, Colorado, Utah and points west, Petito documented their “van life” on social media with videos and pictures that depicted a loving couple having an American adventure.

She posted her final photo to Instagram on Aug. 25, the same day she last spoke to her mother by phone.

Police in Utah released a video last month of an August encounter with the Florida woman tearfully describing a dispute she had on a road trip with her boyfriend, who was named a person of interest in her disappearance.

On Sept. 23, a federal grand jury in Wyoming indicted Laundrie on a charge of fraudulently using Petito’s bank debit card between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 to spend $1,000 or more. He had not been charged in her death.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Tyler Clifford; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Frank McGurty and Cynthia Osterman)

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