Gabby Petito autopsy: Cause of death strangulation, coroner says
JACKSON, Wyo. - Gabby Petito died of strangulation and the manner of her death was homicide, according to a Wyoming coroner who shared new details from the final autopsy report of her death.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue on Tuesday discussed the ruling on Petito’s final autopsy report, estimating that the 22-year-old died three to four weeks before her body was discovered on Sept. 19 in the Bridger-Teton National Forest along the border of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
"There will not be an exact date of death on the death certificate," Blue said. He later added: "Nothing is obvious in a situation like this."
Blue declined to say more about the autopsy, noting that Wyoming law limits what coroners can release. He added that the toxicology report is not public and he couldn’t comment on those results.
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Petito had been on a cross-country trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie. She was first reported missing on Sept. 11 after Laundrie returned to their shared home in Florida in her van — without her.
Her disappearance sparked national interest, prompting some to come forward with crucial tips in the search. Video captured by vacationing family accidentally caught what appeared to be the couple's van parked at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in the forest, and Petito's body was later found nearby.
In preliminary findings, the coroner previously ruled the manner of her death a homicide but a specific cause of death had not been disclosed pending the final autopsy results.
"We are only tasked with the determination of cause and manner of death. Who committed the homicide is up to local law enforcement," the coroner said when asked about Laundrie’s involvement.
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The couple had documented much of their summer trip in the converted camper van on social media, further stoking interest in the case following Petito’s disappearance and death. Laundrie, 23, returned home to North Port, Florida, on Sept. 1 alone — 10 days before she was reported missing to police.
After his return to Florida, Laundrie and his parents refused to speak with investigators regarding her whereabouts. He was later named a person of interest in the case, and the mystery deepened after his parents also reported him missing in mid-September.
The revelation sparked another massive search, with FBI officials and local police combing the 24,000-acre Carlton Reserve in the Sarasota, Florida, area after his parents told authorities that they believed he entered the area prior to going missing. TV personalities Duane Chapman, known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, and longtime "America’s Most Wanted" host John Walsh have also worked to find him.
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Laundrie has not been charged in the death of Petito, but a federal arrest warrant was issued for him on charges relating to "unauthorized" use of a debit card in the days following her death.
Steven Bertolino, the attorney for the Laundrie family, issued a statement following the coroner’s press conference.
"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," the statement reads. "At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him."
Meanwhile, the massive interest in Petito’s case has also renewed calls for people to pay greater attention to other cases, particularly those involving missing Indigenous women and other people of color.
RELATED: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland: Gabby Petito case a reminder of missing Native Americans
This story was reported from Cincinnati.