Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito was strangled to death, a coroner said on Tuesday afternoon following weeks of speculation over the 22-year-old woman’s autopsy.
Petito’s remains were identified on Sept. 21 shortly after her body was found along the border of Grand Teton National Park. Teton County medical examiners had ruled her death as a homicide but did not make the cause of her death public.
Dr. Brent Blue told reporters Petito was likely strangled between three and four weeks before her body was found. But he declined to say more about the autopsy or the case overall, saying he was prevented by Wyoming law that limits what information coroners can release.
Petito disappeared after a month-long cross-country trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23, across the United States.
Her family reported her missing on Sept. 11, saying Petito was not responding to calls or texts more than a week after her boyfriend had reportedly returned home from the trip without her.
Laundrie has been named a ‘person of interest’ in Petito’s case, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest after authorities charged him last month with the unauthorized use of her bank debit card to make withdrawals worth more than $1,000.
Laundrie returned to his home in North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1 in the white van the couple had rented for the trip. His parents told police their son had disappeared on Sept. 17, three days after they said they had last seen him.
Gabby Petito’s remains positively identified, death ruled a homicide by coroner
But Petito’s family insists that Laundrie is not “missing.”
“All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing,” read a statement from the law office of Richard B. Stafford, who is representing Petito’s family.
The search for Petito and Laundrie has generated a media frenzy across much of the world, with thousands of social media users taking to TikTok and Instagram to try to hunt Laundrie down and pore over possible clues.
The couple began posting online about their vanlife trip in a converted camper van in June. They were stopped by police in Moab, Utah, on Aug. 12 after a 911 caller said they had seen Laundrie slapping and hitting Petito outside of the Moonflower Community Cooperative.
Body camera footage showed Petito crying as she described an argument that escalated into her slapping Laundrie as he drove. Police asked the couple to separate for the night, but neither Petito or Laundrie were detained and no charges were filed.
More to come.
— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.