The FBI says a county coroner has confirmed that human remains found in far northern Wyoming along the border of Grand Teton National Park belonged to 22-year-old Gabby Pettito.
Petito disappeared during a cross-country road trip with a boyfriend, who is now being searched by authorities in Florida.
Teton County Coroner Brent Blue determined the manner of his death was homicide, but did not disclose a cause of death pending final autopsy results, officials said Tuesday.
Pettito’s body was found on Sunday, as the pair set out on their trip, near an undeveloped camping area surrounded by woodlands and brush, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Jackson, Wyoming.
The FBI requested anyone with knowledge of 23-year-old boyfriend Brian Laundry’s role in Pettito’s death to contact the agency.
Authorities resumed their search of a marshy protected area near the laundry house on Tuesday. He is wanted for questioning in connection with Petito’s death. Police in North Port, Florida, said investigators had returned to Carlton Reserve to look for him.
Investigators searched the 24,000-acre (9,700-hectare) Florida nature preserve over the weekend, but with no success. They focused on the area after Laundry’s parents told the police that he must have been there.
Officials are using helicopters, drones, dogs and officers in all-terrain vehicles to search for laundry. About 75 percent of the search area is underwater.
On Monday, the FBI went to Laundry’s parents’ home in North Port and removed several boxes and a car, which neighbors said Laundry’s mother usually used.
Laundry and Petito were living with their parents at their North Port home before the road trip on which they died.
The young couple set out in July in a converted van to visit national parks in the west. Police said they had a fight on the way, and the laundry was alone when he returned to his parents’ home on September 1 in the van.
Laundry has been named a person of interest in the case, but his whereabouts were unknown in recent days.
Petito’s father, Joseph, posted a picture of a broken heart on social media over a photo of his daughter, with the message: “She touched the world.”
In an interview that aired on the TV show “Dr. Phil” on Monday, Joseph Petito said that Laundry and his daughter had dated for 2 1/2 years, and that Laundry was “always respectful.” During the interview, which was recorded before their daughter’s body was found, Petito said the couple took a back road trip to California in their car and had no problems.
Joseph Petito said the family began to worry after several days without listening to their daughter.
“We called Brian, we called mom, we called dad, we called sister, we called every number we could get,” Joseph Petito said. “No phone calls picked up, no text messages returned.”
Joseph Petito said he wants the laundry to be held accountable for whatever role it played in his daughter’s disappearance, along with his family’s safety.
Joseph Petito said, “I hope they get what is coming, and that includes their people.” “Because I’ll tell you, right now, they’re just as entangled in my book.”
The FBI said investigators are seeking information from anyone who may have seen the couple around Grand Teton.
Gabby Petito and Laundry were childhood sweethearts who met while growing up on Long Island, New York. Her parents later moved to North Port, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Sarasota.
A man who witnessed Petito and Laundry fighting in Moab, Utah on August 12 called 911 to report an incident of domestic violence, according to recordings of calls obtained from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. The man said he saw Laundry slapping Petito while walking around town and proceeded to hit him before the two got into the van and left.
Video released by Moab police showed an officer pulled over the couple’s van the same day it was seen speeding and hitting a curb near Arches National Park. Body-camera footage showed Petito upset.
Laundry said on video that the couple had a scuffle after they climbed into the van with dirty feet. He said he did not want to level domestic violence charges against Petito, who officials decided was the attacker.
Moab police separated the couple for the night, laundry checked into a motel, and Petito stayed with the van.
In the footage, Gabby Petito cried as she told the officer she and the laundry van were arguing over excessive cleaning. He told the officer that he had OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder.
But “Dr. Phil,” her father said was not really true. He said she just liked to keep her living space organized and was using slang.