Gabby Petito: Autopsy confirms cause of death as strangulation

·3-min read

Watch: Gabby Petito cause of death is said to have been strangulation

Gabby Petito’s cause of death was homicide by strangulation, a coroner confirmed on Tuesday. 

The Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue found Ms Petito died by “manual strangulation/throttling” in a written autopsy ruling released on Tuesday afternoon. 

“In the of death in Gabrielle Venora Petito, we find the cause of death the cause is by strangulation and the manner is homicide,” Dr Blue told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

He said decomposition suggested the body had been in the wilderness for three to four weeks.

The autopsy investigation included analysis by a forensic anthropologist, a full-body catscan, and samples were also given to a forensic entomologist.

Citing Wyoming state law, that only allows manner and cause of death to be released, Dr Blue also declined to say give any further details about injuries found on Ms Petito’s body, the condition her body was found in or whether toxicology tests had turned up any drugs in her system.

Dr Blue confirmed that Ms Petito was not pregnant. 

The release of details of her death represent the most significant update in the investigation since her remains were discovered on 19 September on the edge of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Teton County Coroner Brent Blue (St Johns Health)
Teton County Coroner Brent Blue (St Johns Health)

Dr Blue said the delay in releasing the cause of death due to the exhaustive investigation by law enforcement agencies including the FBI.

Ms Petito’s family were notified of the results before the press conference.

Laundrie family lawyer Steve Bertolino released a statement after the autopsy results were confirmed.  

“Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy,” Mr Bertolino said. 

“While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorised use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian 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 pending fraud charge against him.”

Dr Blue was repeatedly asked about Brian Laundrie’s involvement in the death, and declined to answer, saying that was a matter for law enforcement.

He did refer to Ms Petito’s death as a “domestic violence” case, and said it was “unfortunate” that other similar killings failed to receive the same level of attention as this one.

Watch: Gabby Petito Memorial

Mr Laundrie and Ms Petito left Long Island, New York, on 2 July on a months-long cross-country van-life trip.

On 12 August, police were called to a violent argument between the couple in Moab, Utah.

Mr Laundrie flew home to Florida on 17 August, leaving Ms Petito on her own in Salt Lake City.

He returned on 23 August, and the couple were seen checking out of a hotel room the next day.

Ms Petito was last seen on 27 August at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the FBI appealed for sightings of her between 27 and 30 August.

On 1 September, Mr Laundrie drove the couple’s van back to Florida.

She was reported missing on 11 September, sparking a nationwide manhunt.

Mr Laundrie has gone on the run from authorities, and is the subject of a massive nationwide manhunt.

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