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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Human remains found at the Carlton Reserve Wednesday were confirmed on Thursday to be those of Brian Laundrie, the fiance of Gabby Petito and person of interest in her killing.
The remains, described as skeletal, were located near some of Laundrie’s personal belongings – a backpack, notebook and dry bag.
The FBI said a comparison of dental records proved the remains were his. Steven Bertolino, a lawyer for the Laundrie family, confirmed his parents were notified of the identification Thursday.
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday in the reserve are indeed Brian’s,” he said. “We have no further comment at this time and we ask that you respect the Laundrie’s privacy at this time.”
Crime experts say the notebook found near Brian’s remains could potentially answer key questions about the circumstances surrounding Petito’s disappearance and death.
“If that notebook contained, for example, information that could have been admissions, it could be projecting blame or rationalization, all that information could help in the determination,” former FBI profiler Jim Clemente told CNN Thursday.
A suicide note or letter, if Laundrie wrote one, could shed light on his state of mind during his final days, according to criminologist Casey Jordan.
“And that really raises the question that, if indeed, this is Brian Laundrie and died by his own hand, did he take the time to write out a note of explanation? Maybe even regret? Something that would give answers. Not only to the police but to Gabby’s family,” she told CNN. “I think if that notebook is there, there’s a very good chance there could be a note.”
But according to Jordan, we still may never know what happened between Laundrie and Petito.
“We the public may never know but it would certainly indicate especially if his parents, who have voiced his concern that he might have harmed himself or had suicidal ideations when he went into the reserve, maybe the notebook will have some answers. But if it doesn’t, if he’s not been in touch or corresponding or calling his parents in the month he’s been missing, then we may never know the exact answer of what happened to Gabby and that’s going to be a very hard thing for her family to deal with,” she said.
The FBI said the items were found in part of the park that was previously submerged in water. A source close to the investigation told CNN the notebook was clearly wet. It’s unclear if the contents were still legible.
“They are going to use any potential means to dry that out before opening it,” the source said. “They’ll be very careful with it.”
According to criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Mark O’Mara, the FBI may be able to retain some of the notebook thanks to advances in forensic technology.
“So I think there’s going to be great information to come from that [the notebook]. Because even if there is bleeding amongst the ink and the pages, they have done a great job with even much older items that they find,” O’Mara explained.
Laundrie had been missing since Sept. 13, two weeks after he returned home alone from his cross-country trip with Petito. His parents said he went for a hike at the Carlton Reserve and left behind his wallet and cellphone.
Days after he went missing, authorities found Petito’s remains at a campsite in Wyoming. A coroner ruled she died by strangulation.
Laundrie was charged in his absence with the unauthorized use of a debit card. He was accused of withdrawing more than $1,000 from an unnamed account while Petito was missing.