The FBI spent several hours Monday searching the Florida home of Brian Laundrie, who police have called a "person of interest" in the disappearance of his fiancée Gabrielle Petito, a day after remains consistent with the description of the Blue Point native were found in a Wyoming national forest.
The Tampa FBI said it concluded its search of the Laundrie residence Monday evening in a tweet.
"We are executing a court authorized search warrant at that residence today," Andrea Aprea, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Tampa, told Newsday by phone Monday morning.
A silver Ford Mustang convertible, which had been parked in the driveway of the Laundrie home in North Port, Florida — south of Tampa — was towed away as part of the evidence collection, according to video footage from outside the house. Agents were seen entering the house and examining a backyard shed, and later removed several boxes from the home.
Aprea said the search warrant application and supporting affidavit were sealed and therefore unavailable to the public.
The Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino confirmed the FBI had been at the home, but declined to comment further. On Monday night, Bertolino canceled a planned news conference at his East Islip office Tuesday afternoon, saying: "As per my conversation with the FBI this evening there will be no press conference tomorrow."
Laundrie, 23, who police have said is unemployed, had returned to Florida from the couple's cross-country road trip on Sept. 1 without Petito. Her mother reported her missing 10 days later, but Laundrie refused to talk to police, who labeled him a "person of interest" in her disappearance and said his silence was "hindering" their investigation.
Laundrie was later reported missing to police in Florida, and despite a massive manhunt, still had not been located as of Monday evening.
The couple, who both graduated from Bayport-Blue Point High School, had left Long Island in her white van on July 2 on a cross-country camping trip. They stopped at several national parks, documenting their hiking and camping journey on social media, and had an eventual destination of Portland, Oregon where they planned to stay with a family friend.
The Petito family attorney, who has asked for privacy for the family, did not issue a statement Monday.
On Long Island Monday, the American flag outside the Bayport-Blue Point library was being flown at half-staff in honor of Petito, a library employee told Newsday.
Outside the Blue Point Fire Department, Denise Chiuchiolo, whose husband served alongside Petito's grandfather in the Patchogue Fire Department, remembered Petito attending the department's annual Christmas party.
"It’s just so devastating," said Chiuchiolo. "A beautiful girl, [a] life gone too short."
Danielle Cervini, a bartender at Blackbirds’ Grille in Sayville, said Petito worked as a busser at the restaurant several years ago when she was in high school.
She described Petito as a quiet, sweet girl and said she has been on the minds of customers and staff since she went missing. The unanswered questions surrounding her disappearance have rattled the community, Cervini said.
"I hope that they [the family] get some answers," she said. "They deserve it."
The FBI search of the Laundrie home in Florida came less than 24 hours after human remains consistent with the description of Petito were found Sunday in a national forest in Wyoming, where Petito was last seen before disappearing.
The body was discovered in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, adjacent to the Grand Teton National Park, where the FBI and other law enforcement authorities had conducted a massive search for Petito in a camping area.
Charles Jones, a supervisory special agent at the Denver office of the FBI, said Sunday that the human remains were "consistent with the description" of Petito, but said a "full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby."
Jones also said the cause of death had not been confirmed.
Teton County, Wyoming Coroner Brent Blue said in an email Monday: "The Teton County Coroner’s Office is performing an autopsy on yet to be identified remains on Tuesday, September 21. All information related to the autopsy and other findings will be released by the Public Information officer in the Denver FBI office."
Laundrie's parents reported him missing to North Port Police last Friday, after he left Tuesday for a hike but never returned, police said his parents told them.
After two days of searching, the North Port Police Department on Monday suspended its search for Laundrie in a vast park and wildlife reserve in Sarasota County, Florida, according to The Associated Press, but said it would continue to look for Laundrie.
The department said Monday morning that it "currently has no plans to conduct a major search of the Carlton Reserve today." It added that the department believes it has "exhausted all avenues in searching of the grounds there."
Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt said she last spoke with her daughter, who had texted and called her several times a week, in late August, but then communication stopped. When she texted Laundrie's parents on Sept. 10 and 11, no one responded, said Schmidt's attorney.
While on the trip in mid-August, the couple got into a physical altercation in Moab, Utah, with Laundrie telling police they had been arguing because of the stress of traveling together. The police investigation was recorded on police body camera, which featured a crying Petito detailing how she thought Laundrie was going to leave in her van without her.
Utah police labeled Petito the aggressor but declined to press charges.
With Cecilia Dowd and Robert Brodsky