Gabby Petito died by strangling ‘three to four weeks’ before her body was discovered, according to coroner.
Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old travel YouTuber whose disappearance sparked nationwide interest and prompted a search for her missing fiance, died of strangulation, a Wyoming medical examiner concluded Tuesday.
Last month, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue declared Petito’s death a homicide. Petito’s body had been “outside in the forest for three to four weeks” before it was discovered on Sept. 19, he added on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, this is only one of many deaths in the country of persons involved in domestic violence, and it’s sad that these other deaths did not receive as much press as this one,” Blue added.
Petito’s abduction has prompted a national debate about whose disappearances garner public, media, and law enforcement attention. Indigenous, Black, and Brown people are more likely to go missing, but they receive less media attention than white individuals, particularly white women – a phenomenon known as “missing white woman syndrome.”
“I assume that because the deceased was a blogger that this received more coverage than others, but there are a lot of both men and women who have lost their lives who aren’t covered by the kind of media attention,” Blue said.
Blue refused to comment on how he arrived at his conclusions or who might have killed Petito. He stated that DNA samples were taken from the body and that it “would be up to law enforcement” to decide whether whoever strangled Petito intended to kill her. Petito was not pregnant, according to Blue.
According to Wyoming state law, only the reason and manner of death are revealed, not other autopsy findings and images, he added.
Petito was subjected to a whole-body CAT scan, a forensic pathology examination, a forensic anthropology examination, and a toxicological evaluation, according to Blue. Blue stated that he was unable to comment on the examination results.
Petito had gone missing while on a cross-country road trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, this summer.
Petito and Laundrie were high school sweethearts from Long Island, New York. Laundrie’s parents later relocated to North Port, Florida, some 35 miles southeast of Sarasota, and the young couple moved in with him.
They embarked on a months-long tour of national parks and other locations from Long Island to Oregon in July, periodically posting cheerful social media photographs and anecdotes along the way. Laundrie went to Florida alone on September 1, and Petito’s parents filed a missing persons report 10 days later after not hearing from her since late August. Petito’s body was discovered outside a Wyoming campground on September 19.
Following Petito’s disappearance, police video showing the couple’s troubles emerged, and officers at one point separated Petito and Laundrie for a night after a domestic disagreement turned physical.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office in Utah published a 911 call from Aug. 12 in which the caller says he drove by the couple’s van and saw “the gentleman was slapping the girl.”
Petito was seen in tears on body camera video during a police stop on the side of a highway near Arches National Park in Utah. The video shows a police officer conversing with Laundrie, who stated that tensions between the two had been growing for several days, yet authorities at the scene took no action other than to tell the couple to split for the night.
Laundrie has not been prosecuted in Petito’s death, but he is being investigated for unauthorised use of a debit card and various accounts totaling more than $1,000. The documents do not specify who owns the cards or accounts.
The indictment also charges Laundrie with illegal device access and claims he utilised the bank accounts without permission from August 30 to September 1.
According to Steven Bertolino, the Laundrie family’s attorney, Laundrie is “only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise.”
“At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the fraud charge pending against him,” Bertolino said in a statement.
Authorities have stated that neither Laundrie nor his family members assisted in the search for Petito in the days after her disappearance. Then Laundrie vanished. He had last been seen a few days before Petito’s body was discovered.
Laundrie’s parents claimed he informed them he was going hiking in the Carlton Reserve, a vast forest and marsh region near the Florida house Laundrie and Petito shared with his parents. His disappearance sparked a major, weeks-long manhunt.
Drones, scent-sniffing dogs, and all-terrain vehicles were employed by authorities, and detectives collected some of his clothing from his parents’ home to provide a scent for the search dogs.
Duane Lee Chapman, also known as “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” was among the searchers and has promised to apprehend Laundrie before his 24th birthday on November 18. The hunt was also joined by John Walsh, a victim advocate and the host of the TV show “In Pursuit With John Walsh.”
Cassie Laundrie, Laundrie’s sister, stated last week that she had no idea where he is.
“I’d turn him in,” she said, according to ABC News. “I worry about him. I hope he’s OK, and then I am angry and don’t know what to think. I would tell my brother to just come forward and get us out of this horrible mess.”
Cassie Laundrie stated that she has attempted to reach Brian Laundrie since his disappearance, but all phone calls have gone to voicemail. She last saw him on September 6th, while on a family camping trip.
“There was nothing peculiar about it. There was no feeling of grand goodbye. There was no nothing,” she said.
A makeshift memorial to Petito in North Port was demolished on Tuesday. The memorial outside City Hall “has been a shining example” of support for the family, but the mementos have become damaged in the weather, the city said in a statement. The items will be presented to the Petito family, and officials are planning a donated permanent memorial.
“Those looking to pay their respects may also want to consider supporting the Gabby Petito Foundation to help parents locate missing children,” the statement said. “Thank you for your understanding in this sensitive and important issue.”