BRIAN Laundrie's body would have decomposed to a skeleton in less than two weeks and was likely feasted on by animals, according to one expert.
Forensic anthropologist Dr Erin Kimmerle told The Sun: "Human remains exposed on the open ground surface, with free access by predators and the heat can decompose is as little as a week in Florida."
Laundrie's remains were found in Myakkahatchee Creek Park on October 20 in a grassy stretch of land that had, for weeks before the discovery, been submerged in storm waters.
Dr Kimmerle added: "While water will slow the process down a little, it is still common to see skeletonization in less than two weeks."
While authorities shared few details, Brian's remains are believed to have only consisted of a partial human skull and bones.
"Skeletal remains often show damage due to vultures, possums, and other scavengers; however, such damage is easily distinguished from injuries resulting from inflicted trauma," Dr Kimmerle said.
Brian's fiancée Gabby was found dead in a Wyoming national park on September 19; a coroner said she was strangled three to four weeks before that.
Dr Kimmerle said police have a strong case for a murder-suicide conclusion, adding: "There seems to be an overwhelming amount of evidence linking the two cases, including a history of domestic violence."
"Add to that witnesses who place them together, the well documented timeline, GPS data from their cars, and cell phone records. It seems there is a strong circumstantial case for a murder-suicide," she added.
Coroners made the positive identification by comparing teeth found to Laundrie's dental records.
However, investigators with the Florida 12 Medical Examiner were unable to determine a cause, manner, or time of death after an initial autopsy came back inconclusive.
The remains were then sent to a forensic anthropologist for further examination.
Forensic anthropologists analyze human remains, conduct DNA tests and look for any signs of weapon evidence to help determine how a person died.
Dr Kimmerle told The Sun: "The scene, evidence at the scene, and the skeletal injuries themselves" will help lead to the cause of death.
She added: "Time since death is estimated as the last time the person was seen alive. The question is, is the level of decomposition consistent with that time frame. And in this case, it is."
Investigators may also be able to garner clues about what happened to Brian, and his slain vlogger fiance Gabby Petito, from a notebook and backpack recovered near to his remains.
The condition of the notebook is unclear but police have voiced confidence it "may be salvageable." No information has been released about its contents.
Laundrie's family left their homes in North Port on October 24 to grieve together in an undisclosed location in Florida after their lawyer shared that they would not be holding a funeral for Brian.
Chris and Roberta Laundrie returned to their home on October 26.
While the watching world waits for answers, attention has turned on the local police department's mishaps during their investigation into Brian that may have thwarted their investigation – and their chances of bringing him in alive.
North Port Police Department, Josh Taylor, admitted this week that investigators bizarrely mistook Brian for his mother while they were surveilling the family home through secretly planted cameras.
Brian and Gabby Petito had been on a cross-country road trip touring the US national parks when Gabby vanished in late August, two weeks after the couple was involved in a domestic violence dispute in Moab, Utah.
Petito's family last heard from her on August 27, receiving a text they characterized as "strange" before Gabby's phone was switched off for good.
Brian has never been named a suspect in Gabby's death but is the sole person of interest in the case.
He was also wanted on bank fraud charges after allegedly racking up $1,000 in charges on a credit card belonging to Gabby in the days after she was killed.
An investigation into Brian's cause of death and Gabby's murder remains active and ongoing.
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