Coroner: Petito cause of death is strangulation

FILE - This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021. Teton County Coroner Brent Blue is scheduled to announce the findings of Petito's autopsy at a news conference early Tuesday, Oct. 12. (The Moab Police Department via AP)

FILE – This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021. (The Moab Police Department via AP)

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UPDATED 10:03 AM PT – Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A Wyoming coroner released the autopsy results regarding Gabby Petito’s cause of death. Teton County coroner Brent Blue made the announcement Tuesday, noting her cause of death was manual strangulation. This means it was done not with a ligature, but most likely with someone’s hands. This also means there could potentially be latent DNA that could help lead investigators to a suspect.

“In the matter of death of Gabrielle Venora Petito, we find the cause and manner to be, cause death by strangulation and manner is homicide,” Blue stated. “By Wyoming state statue, only the cause and manner of death can be released. The autopsy findings and photographs and that sort of material is not released by state statute.”

The coroner said officials came to that consensus after a full body cat-scan and evaluations by pathologists, anthropologists and toxicologists. Additionally, he estimates the strangulation took place three-to-four weeks before her body was found.

Meanwhile, Blue said Gabby’s family may soon be able to put her to rest. He confirmed that her remains have been returned to the mortuary, where her family can make plans.

The autopsy report came several weeks after investigators found her remains at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park in September. Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, remains the number one person of interest in the case. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Crews are still searching in Florida’s Carlton Nature Reserve for Laundrie who is wanted on bank fraud charges. The Laundrie family is facing immense scrutiny by the public after claims surfaced that they may know more about their missing son’s whereabouts than they are letting on.

According to the family’s lawyer, Steven Bertolino, Laundrie’s father will being assisting authorities in the massive manhunt to find his son after a request by law enforcement. Bertolino said Laundrie’s parents spent hours searching for their son on September 13, four days before he was reported missing. His parents still believe he’s somewhere in Sarasota County, Florida.

The sister of the fugitive, Cassie Laundrie, said she’s unsure if her parents are involved with the disappearance of her brother. Protesters appeared outside her home in recent weeks, where she then revealed her frustrations in regards to the case.

“I’m in the boat where I’m getting ignored by my family and thrown under the bus by my family’s attorney,” she stated.

Cassie said she still remains unsure if her parents helped Laundrie escape authorities. However, she did confirm he flew home to Florida on or before August 17. Cassie also said she and her husband have cooperated with the FBI in the matter.

Her remarks came after a Florida man claimed there was no doubt in his mind that he had spoken with the fiancé of Petito. According to reports, 53-year-old Dennis Davis said he encountered the man believed to be Laundrie on a deserted road near the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina. Davis said the “lost and dazed man” rambled about a fight with his girlfriend, then asked for directions to California using only back roads.

 

The attorney for the Laundrie family confirmed the suspect and his parents went camping together nearly a week after he returned home without Petito. A public records request revealed Laundrie’s mother checked in at Fort de Soto Park in early September, which lies about 75 miles from the family’s home in North Port, Florida.

While the search for Laundrie continues, Petito’s family created the Gabby Petito Foundation in her memory. Donations can me made through the web page.

“We’re just hoping that through our tragedy with losing Gabby that, in the future, that some good can come out of it, that we can help other people that may be in a similar situation, reach out to these other organizations that do similar things and find out what’s missing,” expressed Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt. “What can we do to fill that void? What can we do to help people?”

Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, said they wanted his daughter’s name to remembered for something positive and not just for this tragedy. He said noted, “we can’t let her name be taken in vain.”

Authorities are now offering up to $30,000 in rewards for tips on Laundrie’s whereabouts as the search continues. Laundrie is the only person of interest in Petito’s murder.

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