NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The FBI said Sunday evening a body believed to be that of missing Long Island native Gabby Petito has been found in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
Charles Jones, the supervisor senior resident agent of the FBI’s Denver field office, said human remains were discovered consistent with the description of Petito in the Spread Creek dispersed camping area.
“First and foremost, on behalf of the FBI personnel and our partners, I would like to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family,” Jones said. “As every parent can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult time for the family and friends.”
Jones asked that the public respect the Petito family’s privacy.
Watch: FBI Denver news briefing on Gabby Petito
Jones said full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that Petito has been found, but her family has been notified of the discovery. A cause of death has not been determined.
Speaking on behalf of the Petito family, attorney Richard Stafford issued the following statement echoing the FBI’s request for privacy:
“I am making a personal request to members of the press and news media to refrain from contacting the Schmidt and Petito family. Due to today’s developments, we are asking the press and news media to have some decorum and sensitivity for Gabby’s family and allow them to grieve. I will be in contact with you when Gabby’s family is ready to make a public statement,” Stafford said.
“I would also like to personally thank the FBI, the Suffolk County Police Department, the North Port Police Department and especially the Grand Teton Search and Rescue Team. Your tireless work and determination helped bring Gabby home to her parents. The family and I will be forever grateful,” he added.
Joseph Petito, the heartbroken father of the 22-year-old, posted a message on social media, saying Gabby “touched the world.”
Days earlier, he remained hopeful his daughter would be found alive, CBS2’s Cory James reported.
“Positivity is hard. Trying to focus on the scenario I have in my head that she’s stuck somewhere and she just just needs help and that we have to go and get her and bring her home,” Joseph Petito said.
Jones said the camp site will remain closed to public until further notice and that the investigation is ongoing. He asked anyone who may have come in contact with Petito, her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, or their white van to contact law enforcement at tips.fbi.gov, call 1-800-CALL FBI, or contact the Denver field officer directly at 303-629-7171.
Meanwhile, police in Florida continue to search for Laundrie, who his family said left their home on Tuesday and then was reported missing on Friday.
By air and by land, police have been searching for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County.
“We’ve got about 50 law enforcement personnel back here in the park. This is kind of an opening to more than 25,000 acres that are over here into the Carlton reserve, so obviously it’s a vast area,” Josh Taylor, public information officer for North Port, Florida, Police said Saturday.
Saddened and heartbroken to learn that Gabby has been found deceased. Our focus from the start, along with the FBI, and national partners, has been to bring her home. We will continue to work with the FBI in the search for more answers.
— North Port Police (@NorthPortPolice) September 19, 2021
North Port police said their search on Sunday ended in the late afternoon with nothing new to report.
Petito and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country road trip back in July. Her correspondence with her family abruptly ended in late August. Laundrie, however, returned Sept. 1 to the home they shared in Florida — with the van they were traveling in — without Petito, law enforcement officials said.
Five days earlier, a Florida couple said they spotted what they believed was Petito’s van at the Spread Creek dispersed camping area.
“We came across a white van that had Florida plates — a small white van — and we were going to stop and say hi, because we are from Florida too, but the van was completely dark, there was nobody there, so we decided to continue on our way,” a woman said.
Police have wanted to question Laundrie about Petito’s disappearance, but he declined.
“The news about Gabby Petito is heartbreaking. The Laundrie family prays for Gabby and her family,” said Steven Bertolino, the attorney for the Laundrie family.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared on September 19, 2021.