By the time America learned that Gabby Petito was missing, she had been dead for weeks, according to the results of an autopsy released Tuesday.
Teton County, Wyoming, Coroner Dr. Brent Blue revealed the cause of death during a news conference.
“We hereby find the cause and manner of death to be: the cause, death by strangulation, and manner is homicide,” Blue said. “By Wyoming state statute, no other information will be released about the autopsy.”
He said the 22-year-old’s remains were in the Wyoming wilderness for three to four weeks before her body was found on Sept. 19. Her family reported her missing on Sept. 11, according to CNN, triggering a hunt for her that captivated the nation. The last confirmed sighting of Petito alive was on Aug. 27, a little more than three weeks before her body was found.
Brian Laundrie, Petito’s fiancé, was with her on a camping trip but returned alone to the North Port, Florida, home where they lived on Sept. 1.
Laundrie has not been seen since Sept. 13, and Florida police are currently searching for him in a vast wildlife reserve. Authorities also issued a warrant for Laundrie on a charge of debit card fraud.
The release of the autopsy triggered a statement from attorney Steve Bertolino, who has been representing Laundrie’s family, and a heated response from Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, according to WFLA-TV.
“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,” Bertolino said in a statement.
Will Gabby Petito’s killer ever be caught?
“At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him.”
Schmidt sniped at Bertolino’s comment
“His words are garbage,” she said.
Blue said he was thorough in his work.
“We were very exacting our examination and the detail by which that examination was done,” he said, according to Fox News.
“We were waiting for various specialists to come in and help us with this investigation. We were waiting on toxicology to be returned, and it was just a matter of making sure we had everything right,” he said.
A whole-body CT scan, an examination by a forensic pathologist and a forensic anthropologist, and a toxicology analysis were all conducted, Blue said, according to CNN.
Despite rumors, Blue said Petito was not pregnant.
The coroner said it was up to law enforcement to determine who killed her, but made a telling comment as he spoke about the intense media interest in the case.
“I can’t make any comment about any suspects because we’re not involved in that part of the investigation,” he said, according to the New York Post. “Who committed the homicide is really to be determined by law enforcement.”
“Unfortunately, this is only one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence, and it’s unfortunate that these other deaths did not get as much coverage as this one,” Blue said.
“I’m assuming, because the deceased was a blogger, that this received more coverage than others but there are a lot of both men and women who have lost their lives that aren’t covered with this kind of media attention.”
As of Friday, Petito’s remains were still in Wyoming. Her family is working to bring her home to New York.
“Bringing her home is the family’s top priority,” her parents’ attorney, Richard Stafford, told Fox News.
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