On Tuesday, the Wyoming coroner announced that cross-country traveler Gabby Petito had been strangled.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said at a news conference that 22-year-old Petito died on September 19, three to four weeks after his body was found near an undeveloped camp area along the border of Grand Teton National Park in far northern Wyoming. Happened earlier.
It was unclear whether the determination could lead to additional charges against Petito’s boyfriend and traveling companion, Brian Laundry, who is believed to be interested in her disappearance and who is unaccounted for.
Blue declined to say more about the autopsy or the case overall, saying they were prevented by Wyoming law from releasing what coroners can do.
Petito was on a cross-country trip with laundry, visiting Colorado, Utah and other states. She was reported missing by her parents on September 11, after she did not answer calls and texts for several days while the couple visited national parks in the West.
Blue had previously classified Pettito’s death as a homicide—meaning his death was caused by another person—but did not disclose how he was killed until further autopsy results.
Blue said a “detailed analysis” led him to conclude that Petito had been strangled.
“Nothing is clear in such a case,” he said.
Blue said a bit more about Petito’s physical condition—including whether she was strangled directly by someone’s hands, rope, or some other object—but not when asked if she’s pregnant.
Her body is believed to have been kept in the woods for three to four weeks, however, she died around August 27–30, with investigators believing that Petito and Laundry traveled to the area. .
Petito’s case has sparked renewed calls for people to pay more attention to cases involving missing Indigenous women and other people of color, with some commentators describing intense coverage of her disappearances as “missing white women syndrome”. has done.
The laundry search has created a frenzy, with TV celebrities like Duane Chapman—better known as Doug the bounty hunter—and longtime “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh working to track them down. Huh.
Petito and Laundry posted online about their trip in a white Ford Transit van converted into a camper. They got into a physical altercation on August 12 in Moab, Utah, which led to a police brawl, ending with the police deciding to separate the feuding couple for the night. No charges were filed, and no serious injuries were reported.
Investigators also searched laundry in Florida and his parents’ home in North Port, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Sarasota.
Federal officials in Wyoming last month charged Laundry with unauthorized use of a debit card, alleging that he used a Capital One bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges of more than $1,000, a period during which Pettito went missing. He did not say whose card it belonged to.
When asked about the coroner’s determination, Steven Bertolino, a lawyer for the Laundry family, said in a statement that his client only faces a charge of fraud in the case.
“Brian is still missing at this time and we will address the pending fraud charge against him when he is located,” Bertolino said.
In Florida, FBI-led search teams are looking at a vast nature preserve for any signs of laundry. Weeks of searching in the swampy Carlton Reserve south of Sarasota – where Laundry’s parents say he went after returning home from the West – turned up nothing.
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