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Human remains found in Florida reserve confirmed to be Brian Laundrie, FBI says

The remains, which were described as skeletal, were confirmed using dental records.
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Partial remains found by authorities searching for Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito’s fiancé, were confirmed to be his after a review of dental records.

The remains were found in Florida's Carlton Reserve on Wednesday after more than a month of searching for Laundrie, who was declared a person of interest in Petito's disappearance before her body was found in Wyoming. The FBI field office in Denver announced that the remains were positively identified Thursday.

A spokesperson for the North Port Police told NBC News earlier Thursday that the remains were "skeletal."

According to the FBI, the remains were found alongside personal items, such as a backpack and a notebook, belonging to Laundrie.

"These items were found in an area that up until recently had been under water," Michael McPherson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Tampa office, said Wednesday.

Laundrie’s parents helped lead the FBI and North Port police to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, according to Steven Bertolino, an attorney for the Laundrie family.

Bertolino spoke to NBC News Now's "Top Story with Tom Llamas” following the identification of the remains, saying the family wanted to search for their son on their own after the reserve reopened to the public.

"My understanding was it either open to the public on Tuesday or Wednesday, and Chris and Roberta decided that since it was open ... they wanted to go and look for Brian by themselves," Bertolino said. "After speaking with me, I told him that I wanted to notify law enforcement so that we would have no issue."

The Carlton Reserve and neighboring Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are short drives north of the Laundrie family home.

Though the area had been searched extensively, the attorney said it had been underwater and the evidence was only found because the water had receded.

Bertolino rejected the notion that the Laundrie family knew their son might disappear or that they struck a deal with prosecutors to help in the search. He added that, as their lawyer, he personally advised the parents not to speak with law enforcement.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.@gabspetito / via Instagram

"There are two young people that have now lost their lives," the attorney said. "There are parents that are suffering. Now, I understand that whatever happened or whatever didn't happen ... this is tragic for two families. And anybody with a child, and anybody with a sense of humanity can understand the frustration that both families feel on that point."

Petito and Laundrie were traveling across the country, chronicling their journey in their van on social media, before Laundrie returned to his parents' North Port home without her Sept. 1, authorities have said.

During the search for Petito, 22, police in Moab City, Utah, released body camera video capturing a distraught Petito after an alleged physical altercation with Laundrie.

Petito's body was discovered Sept. 19 at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Petito had been dead for at least three weeks and her death was ruled a homicide by "manual strangulation," the coroner said.

Laundrie has been missing since mid-September when his parents said he went hiking in the Carlton Reserve and never returned. The 25,000-acre wildlife refuge was closed for extensive searches of the area and only reopened Tuesday.

An arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie after authorities said he used Petito's debit card without permission. He was a person of interest in the case and was not charged with Petito's death.