Gabrielle Petito, the 22-year-old woman whose disappearance grabbed headlines across the nation and led to a wide-ranging investigation into her fiancÃ©, Brian Laundrie, who returned home without her from a cross-country trip before disappearing himself, died from strangulation, the authorities said on Tuesday.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announced the autopsy results during the virtual press conference. "In the manner of death we find the cause and manner to be cause death by strangulation and manner is homicide, " he said.
Petito's Approximate Date of Death was 3 to 4 Weeks Before Her Body was Found
Dr. Blue could not provide an exact date of death but noted that her body had been outside for three to four weeks before it was discovered and an approximate date would be listed on her death certificate. Petito's remains were found in a campsite in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sept. 19. Her death was ruled a homicide but a cause wasn't revealed until now.
This timeline lines up with what Petito's parents told law enforcementâthat the last time they talked to their daughter was in late August, around the same time when she suddenly stopped sharing Instagram posts of her "van life" cross-country journey with Laundrie.
Dr. Blue ruled out rumors that Petito was pregnant at the time of her death and did not reveal whether any drugs had been found in her system through toxicology tests. Dr. Blue also refused to comment on whether his findings pointed to Laundrie being the murderer.
"I cannot make any comment about any suspects as we are not involved in that part of the investigation. So who committed the homicide is really to be confirmed by law enforcement, " he said.
Petito Told Moab Police Officers Laundrie Grabbed Her Face During Domestic Dispute
Petito had previously told a Utah police officer that Laundrie had grabbed her face during an argument on Aug. 12, in released bodycam footage from a Moab officer who arrived at the scene following reports of a domestic dispute.
On Sept. 1, Mr. Laundrie returned to his North Port, Florida, home where he lived with his parents without Petito. He was declared a "person of interest" after Petito's parents reported her missing on Sept. 11. Six days later, Laundrie was reported missing. His parents told authorities they had not seen him for days after he told them he was going hiking.
In late September, the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Laundrie after a grand jury indicted him for using "unauthorized devices" after Petito's deathâspecifically, Laundrie allegedly used a debit card for accounts that did not belong to him to rack up charges of over $1,000 between August 30 and September 1.
Laundrie's current whereabouts are still unknown, but at one point authorities were searching for him in the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre nature reserve near his parents' home in Florida.