Police to resume search of Florida wilderness for fiance of Gabby Petito

OCTAVIO JONES / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Police and FBI agents planned to resume their search of a swampy Florida wilderness for Gabby Petito's fiancé on Wednesday, one day after the local coroner in Wyoming identified a body found there as the missing 22-year-old travel blogger.

Police have called Brian Laundrie, 23, a "person of interest" in the case, which has captivated Americans since Petito's family reported her missing on September 11. Ten days earlier Laundrie had returned home to North Port, Florida, without her from a cross-country road trip.

Laundrie has not been seen since September 14, when he purportedly left the family home in North Port with plans to hike alone in the nearby Carlton Reserve wilderness area. North Port police say they learned from Laundrie's family only on Friday that he had been gone for three days.

At nightfall on Tuesday police and FBI agents broke off their efforts to find Laundrie in the vast, alligator-infested reserve, which has some 80 miles of hiking trails. Other sections are nearly impassable.

A North Port police spokesman said they would return there early on Wednesday to resume the effort.

Search teams found Petito's body on Sunday in a remote area of Bridger-Teton National Forest, in western Wyoming, less than 300 meters from where, on the evening of August 27, a pair of travel bloggers recorded on video what appeared to be the couple's white Ford Transit van parked along a dirt road.

In identifying her remains, the Teton County Coroner's Office ruled Petito's death a homicide, but did not make the cause of her death public.

"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," FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said in a statement.

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