Brian Laundrie, the 23-year-old who sent the FBI on a month-long manhunt after the disappearance of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the family’s lawyer.
Declared dead one month ago on Oct. 21, his remains were found submerged in water at the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. He was the lone suspect in the case of Gabby Petito’s homicide, who was found dead in Wyoming after the two went on a cross-country road trip.
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide,” said Laundrie family lawyer Steve Bertolino. “Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families.”
According to the New York Post, a forensic anthropologist involved in the investigation found that Brian Laundrie killed himself after returning home without Gabby Petito, stalling family and loved ones from understanding why the 22-year-old was murdered.
The autopsy was a challenge for coroners due to the state that Brian’s skeletal remains were found in, having been submerged in a swamp for weeks. His initial autopsy was ruled inconclusive, and his remains had to be sent to the forensic anthropologist for further review.
“There might not be a way to determine how he died,” Jim Clemente, a former FBI profiler, told CNN at the time. “If he drowned, for example, there wouldn’t be any evidence of that on his skeleton.”
The investigation into Gabby Petito’s murder will continue, despite the trail running cold by finding Brian Laundrie dead, but authorities believe that there may be answers hidden within the pages of his notebook. Having also been submerged in the swamp, the notebook was found wet. The FBI hoped at the time that they might be able to salvage it, but no findings have been announced, if any.
After Brian Laundrie’s remains were found, attorney Steve Bertolino revealed that his parents had considered the possibility that he had committed suicide. Bertolino said that it was “just a tragic situation for both families.”
Brian was never convicted of any crimes due to his passing, but was the main “person of interest” in the case of Gabby Petito’s murder. It is unknown if there have been any advancements in her investigation.
There was no funeral planned for Brian Laundrie, and his family cremated him. Due to national media coverage and spectacle surrounding the couple’s disappearance, the family wanted to say goodbye to their son without protests and media prescience.
Joe Petito, Gabby’s father, has since moved on from focusing on Brian Laundrie. He told reporters in late October that nothing found in his notebook could bring him any closure or bring back his daughter.
He has shifted his attention toward raising awareness for domestic violence, stating that he thought that the statistic that one in three women have experienced a form of domestic violence was “insane.”
“Society needs to figure out how to shift the shame from the victim to the abuser,” he said, “and maybe that starts by having conversations that reassure victims it’s not their fault.”
Brian Laundrie’s cause of death being ruled a suicide is the first advancement in the investigation since late October when they found his remains. It is unknown if authorities will ever know exactly what happened on the cross-country road trip that led to Gabby Petito’s death.
The FBI announced that there was “no new information at this time,” but that they will post updates to their Twitter feed once they were made available.