NORTH PORT, Fla. — The day after skeletal human remains, a backpack and notebook were found in the vast Carlton Reserve area, two North Port Police officers approached Brian Laundrie's family home.
They stayed for fewer than five minutes before leaving with a folder in hand.
Shortly after, the FBI said Thursday investigators used dental records to confirm the remains were Laundrie's.
"I have thought about it, and I have remorse that he died," said Jill Hengel, Gabby Petito's great aunt. She says she wanted justice for Petito, Laundrie's fiancée.
But answers might be hard to get now.
"I don't consider that being justice, because the parents would never know what happened. And they want to know. I'm sure they want to know," she said.
10 Tampa Bay confirms the Myakkahatchee Creek Park will re-open Saturday. Big Slough Preserve, Walton Rach and the Carlton Reserve are now open to the public.
Dr. Sarah Stein has worked on cold cases for more than 20 years.
"I did not at all expect Mr. Laundrie to be recovered deceased," Stein said.
She says evidence showed Laundrie was running from law enforcement, "especially given the fact that Brian had fled of his own free will, that there was evidence that he might have purchased a cell phone with his mother prior to his disappearance. That's not typically the behavior of someone who would be planning to end their own life."
For more than a month, investigators battled rough, wet and muddy conditions. Once some of the water cleared up and the park reopened, Chris and Roberta Laundrie found their son's belongings.
The FBI has not said how Brian Laundrie died.
Investigators will continue searching the areas of the Carlton Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park to piece together what happened to him.
"What investigators are going to be trying to focus on at this point is certainly the timeline — first under which this happened, and if they can narrow down a timeframe that Mr. Laundrie might have died in within a few days," Stein said.
"I think that journal is really going to hold a lot of clues. But you have to add the fact that that scene was underwater. So has the journal been compromised? And if so, then investigators really are in a difficult spot with trying to get answers."
Because of these factors, Stein says Petito's case could go cold.
"Because the only person that we know of who was with Gabby and her final days is no longer here," she said.