On Saturday, authorities announced that a second body had been recovered from the scene of the Homestead double homicide, which rocked the tiny West Virginia community of Platte.
The body was identified as 51-year-old Brian Laundrie, a trucker from the area, who police say used to live in some 200 acres of property at the Geisha Mountain property with his wife.
Although no arrests have been made in the case, the remains of Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie were found on Friday by a search party of five volunteer searchers with dog and a small sifter. The two bodies were discovered near a rocky surface and not far from the original crime scene.
Capt. Ron Partlow of the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office has told reporters that in the early hours of April 27, Mr. Laundrie’s wife was in the kitchen, and Ms. Petito was at the window. According to the newspaper The Charleston Gazette-Mail, Mr. Laundrie never came back after his wife to find her.
Authorities are now saying that it is possible Mr. Laundrie left Ms. Petito in a bathroom before then returning to discover she was dead in the kitchen, according to The Gazette-Mail.
Authorities say Mr. Laundrie moved to the property from a small town, 23 miles away, in 2008, according to its local realtor, the Charleston Dispatch.
Co-worker Roy Jones told the paper that Mr. Laundrie worked hard and had steady income, explaining he may have had enough resources to survive in the area.
“If he made a mistake, he usually tried to fix it,” he said.
Mr. Jones added that Mr. Laundrie had left the children with his friend, and was living with his wife on property at the request of their lawyer.
It is not clear if investigators have found Ms. Petito’s remains, but family members say that she was not shot or stabbed, and did not have pre-existing injuries that would have made it difficult for her to leave the house on her own. According to the paper, she was a solid person, likely not prone to homicide.
“She’s a person who was extremely well-respected, had very easy going, easy going nature,” her brother James Petito said. “She was very caring and loving. She would give her all.”
The Gazette-Mail, in a series of reports on Mr. Laundrie’s life, elaborated on his survivalist skills, painting an evocative picture of a man who could be proud of himself for living in a place and surviving in a place he may have felt threatened by. He was known to catch and eat raccoon, rabbits, and white-tailed deer on a regular basis.
“He was prepared and knew what he had to do,” the paper said.
Mr. Laundrie’s niece, Whitney Smallwood, wrote on social media that the family was making arrangements for a body viewing to take place.
“He used to live in and around that property, as in known them,” Smallwood wrote. “In fact the owner of the property found him abandoned [on] April 24.”
“Everybody was happy for Brian to live the life he did,” Smallwood added. “He didn’t break the law. He worked hard, saved what he could, spent his money on himself, which was most of it, so he could live the life he could afford.
“And now it’s all over.”
Read the full story at The Charleston Gazette-Mail.
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