Authorities discovered remains in a Florida park while searching for Brian Laundrie, but they have not confirmed the remains are his

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After the discovery of remains in a Florida park by authorities searching for Brian Laundrie, friends of Gabby Petito says she hopes the remains are not his — so that Petito can get justice.

"If Brian is dead, the problem is that no one will ever really know what happened or why it happened," Petito's friend, Alyssa Chen, tells PEOPLE.

"We'll never have answers. That's why I want him to be alive, because we won't get answers otherwise. It'll be a double tragedy for him to be dead."

During a Wednesday afternoon news conference, Michael McPherson of FBI Tampa announced that human remains were found along with a backpack and notebook belonging to Laundrie in Florida's found in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. McPherson did not confirm whether the remains were Laundrie's.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie
Brian Laundrie, Gabby Petito
| Credit: North Port Police Department/Facebook

The area in which the remains were found had previously been underwater, he said.

McPherson said an evidence response team is on the scene, and likely will be there for several days.

For more on the new developments in the search for Brian Laundrie and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Ben Matula, a high school friend of the couple, tells PEOPLE, "If it's him, he didn't want to face the music. He had a lot of things he had to account for, and he can't do that if he's dead. Except to God. If he's meeting his maker, I hope he got things right before he died. But death is the easy way out."

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"I actually hope it's not him," Matula adds, "because that means he never has to answer for what happened to Gabby."

Prior to the discovery of the remains, the Sarasota County medical examiner's office and a cadaver dog were sent to the park after several items belonging to him were found there on Wednesday, Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino confirmed to PEOPLE.

Laundrie is the subject of a search after the death of his 22-year-old fiancée, Gabby Petito, whose body was found in Wyoming in September. Authorities have said Petito died by strangulation, labeling her death a homicide. Laundrie has been named a person of interest in Petito's case.

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito
| Credit: Gabby Petito Instagram

Laundrie was allegedly last seen on Sept. 13, when he left his parents' North Port, Fla. home, saying he was going on a hike at nearby Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre nature preserve consisting primarily of swampy wetlands. Carlton Reserve is close to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.