NEW YORK — A body found in Wyoming was identified as Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, the Long Island native who went missing during a cross-country trip with her fiancé, the FBI said on Tuesday.
The county coroner deemed her manner of death as a homicide, according to the FBI. The cause of death remained pending Tuesday until the final autopsy results could be made available.
Petito was reported missing by her family, who live on Long Island, on Sept. 11. Her body was found on Sunday in remote northern Wyoming, along the border of Grand Teton National Park, near an undeveloped camping area that’s surrounded by woodlands and brush.
The 22-year-old had been traveling the Midwest, camping in a van with her fiancé Brian Laundrie, for several weeks. Laundrie arrived back at their home in North Port, Florida on Sept. 1 — but without Petito.
After refusing to cooperate with the missing persons investigation, police described Laundrie as a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance.
Laundrie disappeared several days later. His family told police on Friday they hadn’t seen him since Sept. 14. Police continued to search for him on Tuesday inside a massive nature preserve after his family told investigators he may have gone there.
Investigators searched the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve over the weekend without success.
Authorities are using helicopters, drones, dogs and officers in all-terrain vehicles in their search for Laundrie, 23. About 75% of the search area is underwater.
On Monday, the FBI went to Laundrie’s parents’ home in North Port and removed several boxes and towed away a car neighbors said Laundrie’s mother typically used.
Laundrie and Petito had been living with his parents at the North Port home before the road trip on which she died.
Petito was last seen in a social media video on Aug. 25, and the last text she sent was on Aug. 30, though her family is skeptical whether she wrote the text herself.
Answers in the case have proven elusive thus far, and former FBI agent Patrick Conley told NewsNation they will be difficult to come by unless Laundrie is found.
“The reality is, we don’t know that (police) even have spoken to him or even know where he’s at,” Conley said on “NewsNation Prime” on Monday. “It’s unclear as to whether he’s even been to his residence. (It’s) just speculation on all sides on this.”
Laundrie and Petito interacted with police at least once during their trip. On Aug. 12, someone reported a domestic disturbance involving the couple. Laundrie told police Petito had hit him, but a 911 call released by investigators conflicted with that story.
The 911 caller told the dispatcher that he saw a man “slapping the girl.” The caller went on to say, “They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off.”
Officers suggested the couple spend the night apart and did not arrest either Laundrie or Petito.
Earlier Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Petito family said they would make a statement “when Gabby is home.”