LONG ISLAND, N.Y. – The attorney for now-deceased fugitive Brian Laundrie has shed new light on the moment when Laundrie’s parents learned human remains had been discovered in the Florida park where authorities had been searching.
Steven Bertolino spoke to Fox News Digital from his New York office Friday and further described the events of Wednesday morning, when Chris and Roberta Laundrie met with a law enforcement officer in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
Their son, who had been a person of interest in the murder of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was believed to have been headed for a hike in the park on Sept. 13 when he left his North Port, Florida, home for the last time.
During their Wednesday morning search of the park, a Fox News Digital reporter watched as the Laundries huddled with the officer. In a video obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital, the officer appeared to tell the couple: “I think we might have found something.”
He patted Chris Laundrie’s shoulder as they spoke.
Bertolino said the officer showed the Laundries an image of a backpack discovered in the area.
“They asked them to identify the backpack. Roberta identified the backpack as that belonging to Brian,” the attorney said. “And once that was confirmed, the officer asked Chris and Roberta to leave the park because it was now going to become an investigative scene.”
The human remains, Bertolino said, “had been discovered alongside or nearby the backpack.”
“Chris and Roberta were told that there were remains there,” he added. “Obviously they did not know if they were Brian’s or not.”
Bertolino confirmed Friday that the remains were transferred to a forensic anthropologist “for further evaluation” as investigators worked to determine the time, cause and manner of death.
The attorney, who said he has known the Laundrie family for more than 20 years, said Laundrie was “upset,” “distressed” and “out of sorts” when he left on his hike.
He would not explain why Laundrie was so upset that day, citing confidentiality concerns.
Petito, 22 and Laundrie, 23, had embarked on a cross-country trip in mid-June with plans to sightsee and visit national parks in a white Ford Transit.
According to law enforcement records, they got into a physical altercation on Aug. 12 during their stay in Moab, Utah, which led to a police response for a possible domestic violence.
There were no arrests or charges filed, but officers at the scene ordered Laundrie and Petito to spend the night apart. Officials are now investigating whether the officers’ handling of the call violated Utah law.
On Sept. 1, months after the couple began their trip, Laundrie returned to the North Port home in the van, but without Petito, officials said. The young woman was not reported missing until 10 days later, on Sept. 11, when her mother filed a police report in New York. Police seized the van from the Laundries’ home that same day.
Petito’s relatives said they repeatedly tried reaching Laundrie and his parents in hopes of learning more about their daughter’s whereabouts, but the messages went unanswered.
Petito’s body was discovered in Wyoming on Sept. 19. Investigators have ruled her death a homicide and found she died of manual strangulation.
The investigation into Petito’s slaying is ongoing.