The vulgar comments were posted by a user under the display name Brian Entin, which is also the name of a Florida-based journalist for NewsNationNow who has covered the Petito saga for weeks.
“Someone hacked my name on the coroner’s chat and asked horrible things I’m told,” Entin wrote in a Tweet after the press conference. “That wasn’t me.”
“Unmute me f—ing hell,” read the first coarse message, followed by the all-caps demand “UNMUTE ME YOU F—ING BALD C—.”
The account remained muted, while other reporters were unmuted and given opportunities to ask questions to the coroner. Video footage of the press conference gives no indication that Dr. Brent Blue was even seeing the offensive messages as they appeared.
But that lack of response only seemed to embolden the imposter.
“I’m gonna sue you f—ing c—,” the user typed.
The unhinged attack then took a darker turn.
“Hope you get homicided you f—–t,” the user wrote, deploying a homophobic slur.
The real Brian Entin had already asked Dr. Brent Blue questions during the press conference when the harassing screed began. Entin said on the Twitter that the coroner’s office later told him at least four accounts had logged into the Zoom meeting using the reporter’s name.
On Zoom, users can change their display name to anything at any time. Though Entin and others have said the user responsible for the harassment had “hacked” his account, it’s probably more likely that the imposter (or imposters) simply changed their display name.
There is little doubt that if the anonymous user’s microphone had been unmuted, that they would have disrupted the press conference with similar vulgarity.
The episode was a bizarre footnote to the press conference, in which Dr. Brent Blue confirmed that Gabby Petito had died of manual strangulation, and her death was officially ruled a homicide. The coroner also clarified that the 22-year-old was not pregnant at the time of her death, which had previously been the subject of speculation.
Dr. Brent Blue noted that Petito had likely died three to four weeks before the discovery of her body at Bridger-Teton National Park on Sept. 17, putting the date of death in late August.
The coroner would not comment on whether Petito had died at the site where her remains were discovered, or if she appeared to have been moved after her death. He also refused to speculate on the involvement of Petito’s boyfriend, the now-fugitive Brian Laundrie.
Gabby Petito was originally declared missing on Sept. 11, after her boyfriend Brian Laundrie returned from a cross-country road trip without her. Laundrie went missing shortly after Petito’s disappearance began receiving attention, and her body was discovered in Wyoming six days after he was last seen.
The autopsy report brings another chapter in the Petito saga to a close, confirming that the 22-year-old was murdered. Investigators are still searching for Brian Laundrie, who is is wanted on charges that he used a bank card without the owner’s permission, but who is not officially a suspect in his girlfriend’s death.
As that search drags on into its fifth week, there is growing speculation that Laundrie himself is dead. Experts have said its unlikely that Laundrie, a “mediocre” survivalist, could have lasted for more than a month in the wilderness without outside help.