Police have found a body in Wyoming national park, which resembles and is likely that of Long Island native Gaby Petito, 22, who disappeared while on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend last month. A full autopsy will be carried to determine the cause of the death and if it is indeed the body of Petito, according to Charles Jones, a special agent with the FBI's Denver office.
However, even Petito's family believes that it is her body. An attorney for the Petito family released a statement on Sunday evening asking for privacy to grieve and also thanking the agencies that assisted in the search. The discovery of Petito's remains come as law enforcement officials ended a second day of searching for her fiancÃ©, Brian Laundrie, the lone person of interest who himself vanished last week.
Found at Last
On Sunday police recovered the body of a woman in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. "First and foremost, I would like to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby's family," an emotional Jones said at a press briefing. "Earlier today, human remains were discovered consistent with the description of Gabrielle 'Gabby' Petito," he said.
However, an autopsy is awaited and full forensics identification will be done before confirming if the body is that of Petito. "Full forensics identification has not been completed to confirm 100 percent that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery. The cause of death has not been determined at this time," said Jones.
Richard Benson, an attorney for the Petito and Schmidt family on her mother's side, thanked police and search and rescue teams for their efforts in finding Patito.
Following the announcement on Sunday, Petito's father, Joseph, shared a tribute to his daughter on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with a photo of her adorned with a pair of angel wings, and the caption: "she touched the world."
Even Police Heartbroken
Not only the family and friends of Petito are in grief but even the North Port police in Florida took to Twitter to express remorse on the death of the young woman. "Saddened and heartbroken to learn that Gabby has been found deceased," the department tweeted. "Our focus from the start, along with the FBI, and national partners, has been to bring her home.
Meanwhile, police in Florida called off the second day of search for Petito's boyfriend and fiancÃ© Brian Laundrie, who vanished last week after he was named a person of interest in Petito's disappearance. Laundrie had refused to cooperate with police, and on Tuesday he disappeared from his family's North Port, Florida home.
Police, however, will continue their search on Monday through a nearly 25,000-acre wildlife reserve near Sarasota, Florida, for Brian Laundrie, 23 as they believe Laundrie knows a lot about Petito. Although Petito's body has been found, the mystery behind her disappearance and eventual death remains unsolved.
Petito went missing while on a cross-country trip with Laundrie. She was last seen in Grand Teton National Park in late August. Laundrie returned home alone on September 1 from the cross-country trip, with Petito missing.
After Sunday's announcement, the Laundrie family attorney released a statement, saying, "The news about Gabby Petito is heartbreaking. The Laundrie family prays for Gabby and her family."
(This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.)