Gabby Petito – the 22-year-old woman who was missing for weeks after her boyfriend Brian Laundrie returned home without her – was strangled, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue revealed on Tuesday afternoon during a press conference on Zoom.
Though Petito’s boyfriend has long been considered a person of interest, Dr. Blue said: “I can’t make any comments about suspects.”
Petito appears to have died between three to four weeks before her body was found. That implies that she died between Aug. 22 and Aug. 29, which is consistent with the picture of the case developed through from witnesses and the known timeline.
Dr. Blue also said, “By Wyoming state statute only the cause and manner of death are released. The autopsy findings and photographs and that sort of material is not released by state statute.” There are four manners of death recognized in Wyoming law: homicide, suicide, accidental, natural.
The coroner could not comment on whether, for example, Gabby Petito was killed at the place where the body was found, or was killed elsewhere and placed there. Dr. Blue also wouldn’t comment on whether Petito was strangled manually or with an item like a scarf. No information was disclosed regarding potential marks on her neck.
Dr. Blue did say that the victim was not pregnant, contradicting one of the theories developed on social media.
It was Dr. Brent Blue who, at an earlier stage in this developing investigation, made the positive identification of the remains found at the dispersed camping area. He was also the one who previously determined that Gabby Petito’s cause of death should be ruled a homicide.
After the press conference, Brian Laundrie’s attorney put out a statement, reminding the world that while Brian Laundrie is a suspect in a matter of debit card fraud, he is only a “person on interest” in the homicide. The lawyer added, “When he is located we will address the fraud charge pending against him.”
Gabby Petito’s Cause of Death
Her body was found Sept. 19 at a campground in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.
Only two days later, Dr. Brent Blue made his preliminary determination of the manner of death: homicide. He did not determine the cause of death at that time.
The cause of death was left undisclosed pending the final results.
Authorities announced Monday, Oct. 11, that the final results were ready and they scheduled the Tuesday press conference for Dr. Blue.
Brent Blue is an emergency room physician. In Teton County, the county coroner is an elected position.
Brian Laundrie is Still on the Run
Brian Laundrie is on the run. There is a warrant out for his arrest. That warrant does not explicitly link Laundrie with Petito’s death, but it does allege that he committed debit card fraud by using the card after the last time that she was seen alive.
The last time Petito was reportedly seen alive was at a Wyoming restaurant, the Merry Piglets, where there was a “commotion” involving Petito, Laundrie, and the restaurant staff on Aug. 27.
Norma Jean Jalovec, a Wyoming resident, has said that she gave Brian Laundrie a ride two days later, on Aug. 29. She said that she dropped him off at the Spread Creek dispersed camping area, which is where her remains would be found.
Laundrie’s parents have told the FBI that they last saw him on Sept. 13, before he went for a hike in the Carlton Reserve near their home. The reserve has been the scene of an extensive search, to no avail.
In the hours before Dr. Brent Blue’s press conference on Tuesday, speculation intensified. One of the subjects of speculation was how much he would or could say about the cause of death.