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Autopsy confirms identity of Gabby Petito's remains

Brian Laundrie (L) is considered a person of interest in the death of his fiancée, Gabby Petito. Photo courtesy of North Port Police/Twitter
Brian Laundrie (L) is considered a person of interest in the death of his fiancée, Gabby Petito. Photo courtesy of North Port Police/Twitter

Sept. 21 (UPI) -- An autopsy has confirmed that remains found near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming this week belonged to Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue ruled that Petito's death was a homicide, though her cause of death has yet to be determined.

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Law enforcement officials found Petito's on Sunday, more than a week after her parents reported her missing.

"The FBI and our partners remain dedicated to ensuring anyone responsible for or complicit in Ms. Petito's death is held accountable for their actions," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. "Mr. Brian Laundrie has been named a person of interest."

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Meanwhile, the search resumed Tuesday in Florida for Laundrie, Petito's fiancé.

Her family said they last heard from her in late August while she was on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie. Petito, 22, had been living with Laundrie and his parents in North Port, Fla., when they set out on the trip. Authorities said that Petito was not with Laundrie when he returned to Florida on Sept. 1.

Laundrie, a "person of interest" in the criminal investigation, according to North Port Police, has been missing since last week, when his family said he went for a hike in Carlton Reserve. Police also said that Laundrie has not been cooperative with investigators.

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North Port, Venice and Sarasota police departments, along with the FBI, other law enforcement officials, K9 search and rescue teams, and the Florida Wildlife Commission, resumed the search Tuesday for Laundrie at Carlton Reserve, "this time moving in from the Venice side of the area," according to a North Port Police Department post on Facebook.

"A weekend ground search and aerial search Monday of the 25,000 acre preserve has yet to yield any answers, but we must press on," the North Port Police Department post read. "Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. It is currently waste deep in water in many areas. This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake infected swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails."

North Port police noted that they have been assisting the FBI, which is leading the criminal investigation.

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The resumed search effort was picked up after North Port Police had announced the agency would suspend the search of the 25,000-acre swampy preserve Monday while the FBI searched Laundrie's family home in North Port.

"At this time, we currently believe we have exhausted all avenues in searching of the grounds there," North Port police department spokesman Josh Taylor then said in a statement.

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Authorities seized computer and storage devices from the home, towed a Ford Mustang convertible for the probe, and shortly after the FBI left the home, law enforcement officials visited his sister, Cassie Laundrie, in Lakewood Ranch, the Herald-Tribune reported.

The couple had been in a domestic physical fight in Moab, Utah, about two weeks before she disappeared in Wyoming, but there were no arrests, according to a police report obtained by Fox News.

The 911 caller who reported the domestic incident believed they were fighting over Petito's phone, which Laundrie allegedly took as he tried to ditch her, but Petito allegedly was "punching him in the arm," to get back inside the vehicle registered in her name, according to a witness statement obtained by Fox News.

"He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off," the statement added.

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