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Coroner reveals Gabby Petito was strangled to death

Gabby Petito, by the North Port Police Department in Florida, the lead agency in the missing person case. (Courtesy North Port Police Department/TNS)
October 12, 2021

A month after 22-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito was found dead, the findings of her autopsy revealed Tuesday that she was strangled to death.

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue told reporters during a virtual press conference that he found the cause of death to be strangulation, and affirmed that the manner of her death was homicide.

Blue wouldn’t reveal whether the strangulation was caused by an object or someone’s hands.

Blue said officials arrived at the conclusion of the cause of death based on a “detailed analysis” of a number of circumstances, including the condition of the body, the area in which it was found, and other factors.

“Her body was outside in the wilderness for 3-4 weeks,” Blue said, adding that he could not provide more specifics about Petito’s body due to Wyoming state law. He did confirm that Petito was not pregnant.

Petito’s body was found in Grand Teton National Park on September 19, and was positively identified on September 21. Her family last heard from her in the last week of August, but she was not reported missing until September 11.

Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie has been named a person of interest in her death, but has not been named a suspect. Laundrie has not been seen since September 14 and a manhunt involving numerous law enforcement agencies has been underway at Carlton Reserve in Venice, Fla., where he last told his parents he was headed.

“Who committed the homicide is up to law enforcement,” Blue said when asked if he believed Laundrie was involved in Petito’s death.

Although he is not named a suspect in Petito’s disappearance and death, Laundrie is suspected of using Petito’s bank card for more than $1,000 worth of charges without authorization. An arrest warrant was issued September 22.

Petito’s death and Laundrie’s disappearance have gained national media attention. Television personality “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Duane Chapman and “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh have gotten involved in the efforts to track Laundrie down.

Petito and Laundrie had been on a cross-country road trip at the time of her disappearance. They had left in June, and Petito regularly posted updates on social media and communicated with family members throughout her trip. Those updates stopped on August 27, though the family last received a text message simply saying “No service in Yosemite” on August 30, which the family doubts was written by Petito.

Police had encountered Petito and Laundrie on August 12 when officers initiated a traffic stop on the couple’s van after receiving reports of a man and woman arguing outside a restaurant in Moab, Utah. Police ultimately separated the couple for the night and let them proceed without charges.