Human remains found in search for Gabrielle Petito's missing fiancé

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  • Human remains were found in a Florida nature reserve where authorities have been searching for Brian Laundrie, the missing fiancé of Gabrielle Petito.
  • Petito had been travelling cross-country with her fiancé, who returned home without her in September. Her body was later found in a forest in Wyoming.
  • Laundrie, who'd been travelling with Petito before her disappearance, was named a "person of interest" in her murder.

Apparent human remains were found on Wednesday in a Florida nature reserve where authorities have been searching for the missing fiancé of murdered road-tripper Gabby Petito, the FBI said.

FBI special agent Michael McPherson said personal items belonging to Brian Laundrie, who has been named a "person of interest" in Petito's murder, had also been found in the Carlton Reserve near Venice, Florida.

"Earlier today, investigators found what appears to be human remains along with personal items such as a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie," McPherson told reporters.

"These items were found in an area that up until recently had been under water.

"Our evidence response team is on scene using all available forensic resources to process the area," he said. "It's likely the team will be on scene for several days."

Police have been searching for the 23-year-old Laundrie for weeks, and live television images on Wednesday showed search teams and sniffer dogs at work in the sprawling nature reserve.

The body of Petito, 22, lay in the wilderness of the western US state of Wyoming for up to a month before it was found in mid-September. According to the coroner, she had been strangled.

READ MORE | Gabrielle Petito's death caused by strangulation, coroner says

Petito had quit her job and packed her life into a camper van for a cross-country adventure with Laundrie, starting in July, documenting their journey in a stream of social media posts.

In images shared by the couple online, they are all smiles - barefoot in a canyon or surveying the ochre rocks of state and national parks.

Argument in Utah

But police in Utah revealed one disturbing incident after the young woman's disappearance - a domestic violence report involving Petito and Laundrie in August.

Police bodycam footage shows a distraught Petito saying she had an altercation with Laundrie.

Speaking to an officer after their van was pulled over, Petito is seen crying and saying she struggles with mental health problems.

Petito said she slapped Laundrie after an argument, but she meant no harm.

The police officer decided no charges would be brought but ordered the couple to spend a night apart to calm down.

READ MORE | New footage shows Gabrielle 'Gabby' Petito telling police fiancé hit her during dispute

Petito's family filed a missing person report on 11 September after she mysteriously vanished, and Laundrie, her fiance, returned home to Florida without her.

Laundrie was subsequently declared a "person of interest" in the case. He declined to cooperate with police before vanishing himself.

Petito's death and the subsequent disappearance of the chief suspect sparked a blizzard of media coverage both in the United States and around the world.

It also triggered debate over the disproportionate attention accorded to missing white women.

ALSO READ | Strong probability that the remains found are that of Brian Laundrie, says family attorney

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