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NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) — The partial remains that were found in a North Port park this week during the search for Brian Laundrie were being analyzed on Thursday, according to a medical examiner working the case.
Dr. Russell Vega, the chief medical examiner for Florida’s Twelfth District, confirmed Thursday morning that his team was “currently working on the remains” that were found Wednesday. According to Vega, that includes a continued investigation at the scene, as well as identification.
The partial remains that Vega and his team were attempting to identify were found Wednesday in the Carlton Reserve area. According to the FBI, they were found near personal items – including a backpack and a notebook – belonging to Brian Laundrie.
Steve Bertolino, the attorney representing Laundrie’s family, said Wednesday night that the 23-year-old’s parents were with search crews when the items were found. According to Bertolino, Laundrie’s dad Chris found the bag containing some of his son’s items and officers found the backpack on the other side of the trail.
While the remains have not officially been identified, Bertolino told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Wednesday night that there’s a “strong possibility” the remains are Brian Laundrie.
North Port Public Information Officer Josh Taylor said the remains found Wednesday were found in the Carlton Reserve – about a 40-minute hike north of the foot bridge leading in. Crews had been searching in the Carlton Reserve as well as the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which is connected to the reserve.
According to the FBI, the area where the remains and the items belonging to Laundrie were found was underwater until recently. During the weeks-long search for Laundrie, law enforcement crews spoke often about the difficulty of the terrain in the nature reserve.
“Today when I walked back there, I got to see firsthand the treacherous conditions that they were working on,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said during a news conference Thursday morning. “We’re talking water levels up above almost the chest area, rattlesnakes, moccasins, alligators.”
Laundrie was referred to on Wednesday by the FBI as a person of interest in his fiancé Gabby Petito’s murder. Petito and Laundrie were on a months-long cross-country road trip together this summer when, according to police, Laundrie returned home to North Port without her on Sept. 1.
Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11. Her remains were found Sept. 19. Her death has since been ruled a homicide by manual strangulation, according to a coroner’s findings.
Laundrie was then reported missing by his parents on Sept. 17, two days after he was named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance. When Laundrie’s parents reported him missing, they told police they had last seen him leave home to go to the Carlton Reserve area for a hike on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The family’s attorney, Steve Bertolino, later said that, after further communication with the FBI, the Laundries believed their son left home to go hiking on Sept. 13.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie last month for “use of unauthorized access devices” – a Capital One Bank debit card and a personal ID number for two Capital One Bank accounts – following Petito’s death.