FBI: Letter found near Brian Laundrie's body states he was responsible for Gabby Petito's death

The FBI said Friday that a note from Brian Laundrie found in a notebook near his body indicates he claimed responsibility for Gabby Petito's murder.

The FBI said Friday that a note from Brian Laundrie found in a notebook near his body indicates he claimed responsibility for Gabby Petito's murder. (Suffolk County Police Department)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Federal law enforcement will soon close the book on the murder of Gabby Petito, which includes the release of information on who they believe is responsible for killing her.

A final investigative report from the FBI says law enforcement found a notebook, which they believe was written by Petito's fiance, Brian Laundrie, that "revealed written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito's death," according to a news release from the FBI field office in Denver.

FBI agents recently met with Petito's family in Tampa, Florida, to notify them the case will likely be closed soon. The FBI has pursued all "logical investigative steps" in the case, with only one suspect having been identified.

"The investigation did not identify any other individuals other than Brian Laundrie directly involved in the tragic death of Gabby Petito," said Michael Schneider, the special agent in charge for the FBI's Denver field office.

The FBI announcement comes after a five-month inquiry from the bureau, as the investigation into Petito's disappearance began on Sept. 12. Her body was found a week later at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. It had been three weeks since her last known communication and the Teton County Coroner's Office later ruled that Petito died from blunt force trauma to her head and neck, and strangulation, according to the FBI.

The investigation later found that Laundrie used Petito's phone, a move that the FBI alleges was done in order to give the appearance Petito was still alive. Laundrie also used her debit card while driving from Wyoming to his home in Florida after Petito was killed.

Investigators later found Laundrie's car abandoned at a nature preserve in Sarasota County, Florida, and heavily searched the area. FBI officials noted Friday that the area was flooded during the initial search.

After water receded from the park, officials conducted another search and found Laundrie's body. The FBI said Friday that it also found "a backpack, notebook and a revolver." An autopsy later revealed Laundrie had died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Prior to arriving in Wyoming, Petito and Laundrie were pulled over in Utah by police in Moab after local 911 dispatchers received calls about the two fighting in a parking lot in town. The interaction was a focus of heavy scrutiny, as police allowed the two to leave, without consequence.

Earlier this month, an independent investigation revealed that two Moab police officers made several mistakes during that interaction, though the investigator wrote it would never be known if a different outcome in the stop would have prevented the murder.

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Jacob Scholl joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. He covers northern Utah communities, federal courts and technology.


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