Gabby Petito died of strangulation, a coroner revealed Tuesday, as a manhunt continues for her missing fiancé, Brian Laundry, who police have treated as an individual interested in the case.
Petito, 22, died three to four weeks before his body was found near an undeveloped camping area along the border of Grand Teton National Park in far northern Wyoming on September 19, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said at a news conference.
It was not clear whether the decision could lead to additional charges against Laundry.
Petito disappeared during a cross-country road trip with laundry, which is now being searched by authorities in Florida.
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 parks in the West.
Investigators have continuously explored the 24,000-acre (9,700-hectare) Florida Nature Preserve without success. They focused on the area after Laundry’s parents told the police that he must have been there.
Officials are using helicopters, drones, dogs and officers in all-terrain vehicles to search for laundry. About 75 percent of the search area is underwater.
Laundry and Petito were living with their parents at their North Port home in Florida prior to the road trip on which they died.
The young couple set out in July in a converted van to visit national parks in the west. Police said they had a fight on the way, and Laundry was alone when he returned to his parents’ house in the van on September 1.
Petito’s case has renewed calls for people to pay More focus on cases involving missing indigenous women And others of color, with some commentators describing the intense coverage of her disappearance as “missing white woman syndrome.”
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.
Federal officials in Wyoming last month charged Laundry with unauthorized use of a debit card, alleging that she used a Capital One bankcard and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges of more than $1,000, over a period of time. Pettito had gone missing. He did not say whose card it belonged to.
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.
Steve Bertolino, the lawyer for Laundry’s family, said in an email that there was “nothing new” in the search.