US reporter Hannah Knowles explains 'the big mystery' hanging over the Gabby Petito homicide case

A US journalist covering the disappearance of Gabby Petito - a case that has captured the world's attention - says there are still "so many questions hanging over the case", despite the breakthrough discovery of her body.

On Wednesday morning (NZ time), medical examiners confirmed human remains found in a Wyoming forest belonged to the 22-year-old traveller from Florida.

"Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999," the FBI's Denver office said. "Coroner Blue's initial determination for the manner of death is homicide. The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results."

Washington Post reporter Hannah Knowles, who has been covering the story since news of it broke, told The AM Show several key questions are still yet to be answered.

"The first thing that caught everyone's attention was that Gabby's fiance [Brian Laundrie] just returned from this cross-country trip without her and then refuses to speak to authorities," she said.

"So we just have so many questions hanging over the case, and that has been the big mystery - why isn't he talking to police?"

"This case has also caught a lot of attention because the couple was very active on social media, so they had this seemingly happy life on Instagram and then that's been undercut as police released some of that video and as this case just drags on."

The video Knowles refers to is police body camera footage from August 12 that shows Petito speaking to authorities during a traffic stop in Utah. She tells them she was having arguments with Laundrie and that he had been physical at times.

Laundrie has disappeared, but Petito's family say he's not missing, he's hiding - and have urged Laundrie and his family to come forward with any information they have.

Knowles says authorities are holding information close to their chests on Laundrie, who they are searching for and have described only as a "person of interest".

"I'm sure there are a million theories [about where he is], but in terms of the official investigation, all we know is he's a person of interest. They've been very cautious in what they're saying and the language they're using," Knowles explained.

"Even when they found this body… they really would say nothing about how they found the body or where they've found it because they want to protect the investigation and any prosecution that comes out of it."

What we know about the Petito case

Investigators have called Laundrie, 23, a "person of interest" in the sensational case. His parents, who live in North Port, Florida, told FBI agents they last saw him one week ago, when he told them he was planning to hike alone in the nearby 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve wilderness area.

North Port police called off their search of the swampy reserve on Monday after "exhausting all avenues" to find Laundrie there.

Investigators spent much of Monday searching the Laundrie home, loading cardboard boxes into a van and towing away a silver Ford Mustang.

Petito and Laundrie left her home state of New York in late June or early July, heading west in her white van with plans to visit America's national parks and document the trip on social media.

Laundrie returned home to North Port alone in the van on Sept. 1. Ten days later members of Petito's family reported her missing. Before disappearing, Laundrie had refused to speak with investigators and retained a lawyer.

Witnesses last saw Petito on Aug. 24 as she left a Salt Lake City hotel. She posted her final photo of the trip on social media the next day. Petito's family believes she was headed to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming when they last heard from her.

Her body was discovered on the edge of that park, in a remote area less than 1,000 feet (300 meters) from where a pair of travel bloggers filmed the white van parked along a dirt road near Spread Creek on the evening of Aug. 27.