Gabby Petito's Cause of Death Was Strangulation, Says Coroner
A medical examiner announced on Tuesday that Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito died by strangulation.
The 22-year-old Long Island native was reported missing on September 11th by her parents after she disappeared during a cross-country road trip with her fiancée, Brian Laundrie. The autopsy report was ready three weeks after her body was found in Grand Teton National Park.
Teton County Coroner Brent Blue confirmed Petito's body had been left outside for three to four weeks following her death, however he declined to offer other details of the autopsy as it is not allowed under Wyoming state law. Blue had announced that Petito's death was being treated as a homicide on September 21st, but did not give further details at that time.
"Unfortunately, this is just one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence," Blue said in a news conference. "It's unfortunate that these other deaths do not get as much coverage as this one."
The media has faced criticism since Petito's disappearance sparked massive coverage and shed light on the disparities in the reporting of cases of missing people of color.
Authorities have not yet named a suspect in Petito's homicide but her fiancé was named a person of interest on September 15th. On September 17th, Laundrie's family reported him missing in Florida and he has yet to be found despite extensive searches.
Throughout the investigation, several chilling accounts of domestic abuse have been made public regarding the couple. Two weeks before the last sighting of Petito, someone called 911 and said the "gentleman was slapping the girl." Police arrived at the scene and officers advised the couple to spend time apart, even driving Laundrie to a hotel.
Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, became concerned after not hearing from her daughter for more than two weeks and learning Laundrie had returned home to Florida alone more than 10 days after her daughter went missing.
"Gabby Petito's death at such a young age is a tragedy," Steve Bertolino, the Laundrie family attorney told CNN. "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. At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him."