Why the FBI Hasn't Closed the Gabby Petito Case

When Brian Laundrie's remains were discovered last month in Florida, many believed the case involving the disappearance and death of his fiancée, Gabby Petito, was solved. However, two months after the criminal mystery first sparked national headlines, law enforcement officials still consider the investigation open and active.

Laundrie, who remains the sole person of interest in Petito's death, was found dead on October 20 near Florida's Carlton Reserve after a monthslong search by local police and the FBI.

The discovery came more than a month after Petito was reported missing by her family. She was later found dead near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. An autopsy determined that she died from strangulation after traveling on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie, who returned home to Florida without her in September.

Though police were quick to name Laundrie a person of interest in her death, the FBI has yet to officially name him as her killer, NewsNation Now reported. Local and federal law enforcement officials are still working to piece together exactly what happened to the couple as they traveled across the country in a van and documented their adventures on social media.

"We can surmise, we make an assumption, but right now the responsible party for the homicide of Gabby Petito, arguably, is still unsolved," former FBI special agent and attorney Stuart Kaplan told People magazine in October.

Laundrie's skeletal remains and some items, including a notebook and backpack he owned, were uncovered by police, but investigative efforts were made difficult by the fact that his body was found in a location that had been underwater.

An initial autopsy on his body was inconclusive in determining the cause of death, prompting officials to send his body to an anthropologist for further evaluation. The results of that report have not yet been released but could come as soon as November 23 or 24, according to NewsNation Now reporter Brian Entin.

Gabby Petito
The investigation into Gabby Petito's death reportedly remains open and active, with the FBI not naming her deceased fiancé, Brian Laundrie, as the person responsible. Above, a makeshift memorial dedicated to Petito on September 20 in North Port, Florida, where she and Laundrie lived. Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Former FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer told the news outlet on Tuesday that police will likely continue investigating any items that could further connect Laundrie to Petito's death, as well as information on whether his family members, who have refused to speak to law enforcement, were involved in his disappearance.

"I believe the FBI is using all their chemical techniques and other techniques to get everything they can out of that notebook, depending on how much was written in there.... You can imagine it may be a long, tedious process, but they can do it," Coffindaffer told NewsNation Now.

Eventually, Coffindaffer added, the bureau will likely make an official announcement regarding the outcome of the case.

"The FBI will release some sort of presser indicating who they believe was responsible for this crime," Coffindaffer said.

Newsweek contacted the FBI for additional comment on the Petito case but did not hear back in time for publication.