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Wednesday January 26th, 2022 5:32AM

Officials: Brian Laundrie fatally shot himself in the head

By The Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) — Brian Laundrie, who was found dead last month in a Florida swamp, shot himself in the head, officials announced Tuesday.

Laundrie had been the subject of a manhunt for more than a month as investigators searched for clues in the slaying of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito, during their cross-country van trip together.

The medical examiner in Sarasota County, where Laundrie's body was found, said in a news release that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death was suicide.

Attorney Steve Bertolino, who represents Laundrie’s parents, said in a statement that the family had been informed about the autopsy results.

“Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families,” Bertolino said.

Found in a Florida nature preserve, Laundrie’s skeletal remains were positively identified last month using dental records.

The discovery of the remains concluded a massive search involving federal, state and local law enforcement that began shortly after Laundrie disappeared Sept. 14, two weeks after the 23-year-old returned alone to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida.

The investigation into Petito’s slaying, however, has not yet concluded. But only Laundrie was ever identified by law enforcement officials as a person of interest in the case.

Petito’s family reported the 22-year-old woman missing Sept. 11, launching a search that garnered worldwide media attention and, in Laundrie’s case, focused largely on the Carlton Reserve wilderness park near the Laundrie home. It is a densely wooded, swampy area that’s home to alligators, coyotes, bobcats, snakes and numerous other creatures.

Petito's remains were discovered Sept. 19 on the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, one of the places the young couple had visited on the trip they documented through social media videos. Authorities said the body had been there for about a month.

An autopsy in Wyoming concluded Petito died by strangulation and that it was a homicide. Laundrie was listed as a “person of interest” in her killing but he was charged only with fraudulent use of a debit card that was not his.

Richard Stafford, attorney for Petito’s family, said they would have no immediate comment on Laundrie’s cause of death.

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