Gabby Petito case: Cause of death was strangulation, coroner says after autopsy

Local News

WYOMING — Gabby Petito died by strangulation, a Wyoming coroner announced on Tuesday, nearly a month after the Long Island native’s body was found in a remote area of the state.

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said the autopsy revealed Petito’s body had been outside for three to four weeks before she was found. He previously announced her manner of death as a homicide, but Tuesday was the first time the public learned of Petito’s cause of death.

Blue said further details regarding Petito’s autopsy results would not be released, per state law.

Petito vanished while on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie in a converted camper van. The trip was well-documented on social media until it abruptly ceased, allegedly somewhere in Wyoming. The couple documented most of their trip, which started in July, on a YouTube Vlog called “VAN LIFE.”

Petito, 22, was reported missing on Sept. 11 by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days. Petito’s body was found on Sept. 19 on the outskirts of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

During the investigation, authorities revealed Laundrie and Petito had gotten into a physical altercation on Aug. 12 in Moab, Utah, that led to a police stop, which ended with police deciding to separate the quarreling couple for the night. No charges were filed, and no serious injuries were reported.

It has been weeks since any firm new details have emerged in the case as authorities continue to search for Petito’s fiancé. Laundrie’s parents say they last saw him on Sept. 13 when he took a car to a 24,000-acre Florida reserve. He was reported missing Sept. 17.

Despite searching for nearly a month in the Carlton Reserve, police have not found him and have not disclosed whether they’ve found any clues in the case.

“We need to find something,” North Port police officer Josh Taylor told NewsNationNow.com on Friday. “I think there’s so much attention on this. I don’t know that this case would ever get to be a cold case. We’ll continue to search. You know, we could be searching that Carlton Reserve and nearby lands for a long, long time.”

The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie. He is wanted for “use of unauthorized access device” related to his activities following Petito’s death. The FBI said he used a debit card and a PIN to access two bank accounts on Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.

It wasn’t clear if the coroner’s determination on Petito’s cause of death might lead to additional charges against Laundrie, who authorities only considered a person of interest in her death, as of Tuesday. When asked whether Laundrie was now a suspect, the coroner referred such questions to the FBI.

Laundrie family lawyer Steve Bertolino said in a statement Tuesday that he was still a person of interest in Petito’s death.

“Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy. While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized 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,” Bertolino said.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.

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