The Wyoming medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Gabby Petito said Tuesday the 22-year-old’s death was caused by strangulation.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue made the announcement at a virtual press conference.
“After a detailed investigation by our medical examiner, anthropologist, and local law enforcement, with assistance from the FBI, the Teton County Coroner’s Office issued the following verdict in the death of Gabrielle Venora Petito. We hereby find the cause and mode of death to be: cause, death by strangulation, and the manner is homicide, ”he said.
Blue initially ruled that Petito’s mode of death was homicide pending final autopsy results.
He said law enforcement took DNA samples from Petito’s body and that she was not pregnant.
The time of death was estimated to be three to four weeks before Petito’s body was found, Blue said.
He added that under Wyoming state law, only the cause and manner of death is disclosed after an autopsy, and said no further information about his death would be released.
Petito’s body was discovered in the scattered Spread Creek camping area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest near Grand Teton National Park on September 19 – eight days after his family reported his missing and nearly three weeks after her 23-year-old fiance, Brian Laundrie, returned home after a road trip across the country without her.
Laundrie was labeled a Person of Interest by Police in North Port, Florida, where he and Petito lived with Laundrie’s parents before embarking on their trip. Laundrie’s parents reported him missing on September 17, four days after he told police he told them he was going for a hike at a nearby nature reserve.
Authorities have since scoured the 24,565-acre Carlton Reserve for laundry. There have also been unconfirmed sightings of Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail, in Canada and Mexico. TV personalities including Duane Chapman – known as Dog the Bounty Hunter – and longtime “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh have joined the search.
Petito’s family have made public appeals to parents in Laundrie to cooperate with the authorities. Police said the laundries initially shared “no useful details” in the search for Petito.
The FBI executed a search warrant on their home a day after Petito’s body was discovered.
On September 22, a federal arrest warrant was issued against Laundrie for alleged unauthorized use of a Capital One debit card owned by Petito.
“While this warrant allows law enforcement to arrest Mr. Laundrie, the FBI and our partners across the country continue to investigate the facts and circumstances of Ms. Petito’s homicide,” Michael said. Schneider, special agent of the FBI, in a statement announcing the guarantee. “We urge those with knowledge of Mr. Laundrie’s role in this case or his current location to contact the FBI. “
In a statement released Tuesday after the coroner’s findings, Steven Bertolino, the lawyer for the Laundrie family, said: “Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy.
“While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is not considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s death,” the statement said. “Brian is still missing at this time and when he is located we will deal with the pending fraud charge against him.”
The case has drawn the attention of national media – as well as media critics for failing to cover similar cases involving people of color. It has also generated a lot of interest on social media, with online detectives scouring the couple’s Instagram posts for potential clues.
Petito and Laundrie had spent months touring national parks in their converted 2012 Ford Transit van, documenting the trip on social media.
Petito’s family, who live on Long Island, said they lost contact with her in late August and reported her missing on September 11 – 10 days after Laundrie returned to Florida in the van without her.
As media coverage of his disappearance intensified, police in Moab, Utah, released body camera footage of officers pulling the young couple’s van near Arches National Park on August 12 following of a report stating a “domestic problem” between the couple apart from a natural food. shop.
The footage showed Laundrie with scratches to his face and a visibly distraught Petito wiping away tears as he told an officer the couple had fought and struggled with “personal issues.”
“I’m sorry,” Petito said to the officer. “We just fought this morning. Some personal problems.
After questioning the couple separately for over an hour, officers concluded that Petito had been the perpetrator in the incident, but neither Laundrie nor Petito wanted to press charges.
“I don’t believe the situation has escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis,” the officers concluded in their report.
Instead, they decided to separate the couple for the night. The laundry was taken to a motel and Petito was allowed to stay in the van. The couple reunited soon after and continued on their journey.
But according to the audio of a 911 call, a witness told police he saw Laundrie slap Petito several times in the parking lot of the health food store. The City of Moab has launched an independent investigation into the police department’s handling of the incident, and Moab Police Chief Bret Edge has taken a leave of absence pending the results of the investigation.
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