TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A notebook that could reveal clues about Gabby Petito’s death is potentially salvageable, authorities said on Monday.
The FBI has been working to preserve the water-damaged book, which was recovered not far from where Brian Laundrie’s remains were found last week.
In an email to 8 On Your Side’s Allyson Henning, North Port police spokesman Josh Taylor said the book was “wet” but “possibly salvageable.”
The FBI said the notebook and other items had been found in part of the park that was previously submerged in water. If the contents are still legible, crime experts say Laundrie’s notebook could offer clues that may help solve the killing of his fiancée Gabby Petito.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said the notebook was likely sent to the head FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia.
“We have experts who really spend their careers doing things like drying out paper evidence, trying to recover the writing and the ink marks, and potentially finger prints, and all sorts of potentially relevant pieces of evidence from an article just like this,” McCabe told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last week. “In terms of understanding Laundrie’s motive, his feeling about Petito, maybe event any kind of notes or comments he may have made about the events—that notebook could shed a lot of light on those issues.”
Laundrie was named the person of interest in Petito’s death after returning to North Port without her after the couple went on a cross-country road trip. Petito’s body was found in Wyoming, and her death was ruled a homicide by “manual strangulation.”
Although Laundrie was named a person of interest in Petito’s killing, he was never charged in connection with her murder. He was suspected of debit card fraud and withdrawing more than $1,000 from an unnamed account during the time Petito was missing. Petito’s family has claimed Laundrie stole her credit card to go home to Florida after she died.
Laundrie’s parents said their son went on a hike in the Carlton Reserve, a short drive north of their home, on Sept. 13 and never returned.
After more than a month of searching, authorities found Laundrie’s skeletal remains in the preserve. Dental records confirmed the identification.
On Monday, police admitted to confusing Laundrie for his mother while surveilling their home in North Port. North Port police spokesman Josh Taylor said officers believed they saw Brian leave the home in his Mustang, but it was really his mother, Roberta. Taylor said the two were “kind of built similarly” and Roberta was wearing a baseball cap when the mix-up happened.
“Other than confusion, it likely changed nothing. There is a very good possibility that Brian was already deceased,” Taylor told News Channel 8 on Tuesday. “He still needed to be found.”
The Laundrie’s attorney Steven Bertolino said Monday that the couple had no plans to hold a funeral service for their son and that they were “grieving privately in Florida,” with their daughter Cassie.