• Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

A notebook found near Brian Laundrie’s remains could answer some key questions, experts say


Oct 22, 2021

(CNN) – Many questions remain unanswered after the death of Brian Laundrie. But crime experts say the notebook found near his remains in a Florida wilderness park may shed some light on the circumstances of his disappearance and the violent death of his fiancée, Gabby Petito.

The FBI confirmed Thursday that the remains found at the Carlton Reserve in North Port belonged to Laundrie, who went missing last month after Petito was reported missing. She was found strangled to death in a Wyoming national park on September 19.

Police also found some of Laundrie’s personal items in the reserve, including a backpack, notebook, dry bag, and some clothing.

Laundrie was not charged in Petito’s death, although the FBI had described him on Wednesday as a “person of interest” in his murder.

Experts told CNN that the notebook believed to be Laundrie’s could offer some insight into a story that has caught the public’s attention.

“If that notebook contained, for example, information that could have been admissions, it could be projecting blame or rationalization, all of that information could aid in the determination,” FBI veteran Jim Clemente said Thursday.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that the notebook was clearly wet when it was found outside of a dry bag that authorities located Wednesday during their search. But it is “possibly recoverable,” the source said.

“They are going to use any potential means to dry it before opening it,” the source said. “They will be very careful with that.”

Mark O’Mara, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, told CNN that the FBI will have “some luck” keeping part of the notebook due to advances in forensic technology.

“So I think there will be a lot of information from that. Because even if there is bleed between the ink and the pages, they have done a great job with even much older elements that they have found,” O’Mara explained.

Authorities have been searching for Laundrie, 23, for more than a month. He left his parents’ home the week after Petito’s parents raised the alarm about his disappearance. They had been traveling the United States for the summer.

Determining cause of death can be tricky

But determining the cause of Laundrie’s death could be challenging, as authorities recovered only his skeletal remains and identified him through dental records, the FBI said.

Clemente, the FBI veteran, told CNN that there is a possibility that Laundrie has been dead for the entire month that authorities have been looking for him.

“It’s going to be much more difficult to make a good, solid determination as to the cause and manner of death, unless there is some type of major and serious trauma to the skull that can be identified,” Clemente explained.

“There may not be a way to determine how he died. If he drowned, for example, there would be no evidence of that on his skeleton.”

Shortly before the FBI released the identification of the remains, two local detectives visited Laundrie’s parents’ home in North Port.

“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the remains found yesterday on the reservation are indeed Brian’s,” said the family’s attorney, Steven Bertolino. “We have no further comment at this time, and we ask that you respect the Laundrie’s privacy at this time.”

The parents joined the search Wednesday morning and found a bag that belonged to their son in the park, which his family’s attorney described as “coincidence.”

The search has been “treacherous”

Laundrie’s exhaustive search dragged on for more than a month after his parents told police they believed he had gone to the reservation.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said law enforcement had been searching in “treacherous conditions,” including nearly chest-high water filled with snakes and alligators.

“These are very, very difficult conditions. You’re looking in areas where you just can’t walk and look. It’s not like you’re searching a house or a car,” he said. “These areas are huge and covered by water.”

Remains found in Florida park most likely Brian Laundrie's, family attorney says

North Port police officers block the entrance to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in North Port, Florida. (AP Photo / Chris O’Meara)

Laundrie’s remains were found “about 3 to 4 km inside the Carlton Preserve, or about a 45-minute walk” from the entrance to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, North Port police spokesman Josh Taylor said.

Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park covers 65 hectares of wooded land in North Port, with trails and a camping area. The park connects to the Carlton Reserve, a 10,000-acre nature reserve that has been the primary search site for researchers.

Researchers had previously used swamp buggies, divers, and airboats to track the swampy terrain, but the area has recently dried up due to clearer weather.

CNN’s Steve Almasy, Rebekah Riess, Taylor Romine, Devon M. Sayers, Gregory Lemos, and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.

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