San Francisco Chronicle

Body of missing woman found; boyfriend sought

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MOOSE, Wyo. — Authoritie­s say a body discovered Sunday in Wyoming is believed to be Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, a woman who has been missing since she vanished on a trip with her boyfriend.

The FBI said the body was found by law enforcemen­t agents who had spent the past two days searching campground­s. The cause of death has not yet been determined, said FBI Supervisor­y Special Agent Charles Jones.

“Full forensic identifica­tion has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified,” Jones said. “This is an incredibly difficult time for (Petito’s) family and friends.”

A camping area on the east side of Grand Teton bordering national forest land will remain closed until further notice while the investigat­ion continues, Jones said.

Jones said investigat­ors are still seeking informatio­n from anyone who may have seen Petito or her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, around camping sites located on Grand Teton National Park’s eastern boundary, the same site that was the subject of a law enforcemen­t search efforts over the weekend.

Petito and Laundrie left in July on a cross-country trek in a converted van to visit national parks across the West. Police said Laundrie was alone when he drove the van back to his parents’ home in North Port, Fla., on Sept. 1. Petito’s family filed a missing persons report Sept. 11.

Laundrie has been identified as a person of interest in the case. His family members told investigat­ors that the last time they saw him was on Tuesday when they believe he went to a wildlife reserve in the Sarasota area.

Police said the conversati­on Friday evening with the Laundries was the first time they’d spoken with them in detail about the case, and that the meeting came at the family’s request.

More than 50 law enforcemen­t officers on Sunday started a second day of searching for Laundrie at the more than 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County, a wildlife area with more than 100 miles of trails and campground­s.

Petito’s family had been pleading for the Laundrie family to tell them where their son last saw her. Petito and Laundrie were childhood sweetheart­s who met while growing up on Long Island, N.Y. His parents later moved to Florida.

The couple’s trek in the van began in July from Long Island. They intended to reach Oregon by the end of October according to their social media accounts, but Petito vanished after her last known contact with family in late August from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, authoritie­s said.

Police video released by the Moab Police Department in Utah showed that an officer pulled the van over on Aug. 12 after it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near the entrance to Arches National Park. The body cam video showed an emotional Petito, who sat inside a police cruiser while officers also questioned Laundrie.

Ultimately Moab police decided not file any charges and instead separated the couple for the night, with Laundrie checking into a motel and Petito remaining with the sleeper van.

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