Human remains have been found in the hunt for Brian Laundrie – the fiancé of murdered Gabby Petito – after his personal belongings were discovered nearby, officials have said.
A senior law enforcement official told NBC that what appears to be partial human remains were uncovered in the Carlton Reserve, Florida, in a location that was previously under water.
There is no confirmation that the remains belong to Laundrie.
The Sarasota County Medical Examiner’s Office was called on Wednesday morning to the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park where the search for Laundrie was under way, a spokesperson for the office had said earlier.
The 23-year-old is a person of interest in the killing of Ms Petito, who was reported missing on 11 September by her parents while the couple were on a road trip.
A lawyer for the Laundrie family, Steven Bertolino, said: “After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented some articles belonging to Brian were found.
“As of now law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of that area.”
The case has generated huge public interest but also raised uncomfortable questions over the unequal attention given to the hundreds of cases of Native American and other minority women missing or murdered across the US. Ms Petito is white.
Her body was found on 19 September on the edge of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, which the couple had visited.
The coroner there concluded she had been strangled and that her body had been where it was found for three or four weeks.
The couple were stopped on 12 August by police in Moab, Utah, after they had a physical altercation, but no charges were filed.
Laundrie returned home alone on 1 September in the Ford van the couple took on their trip.
He was reported missing after telling his parents two weeks later that he was going for a hike in the Carlton Reserve, a vast nature preserve that has for weeks been a key area in the search.
The activity on Wednesday was focused on the nearby Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, where television news reports showed numerous law enforcement vehicles arriving and a tent set up inside the woods.
The location is where a Ford Mustang that Laundrie drove to the wilderness was discovered.
Laundrie is charged in a federal Wyoming indictment with unauthorised use of a debit card, which would allow authorities to arrest him if he is found alive.
It alleges Laundrie used a Capital One Bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorised withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 (£725).
It does not say to whom the card belonged or what type of charges were made.