Gabby Petito was killed by strangulation, autopsy reveals

Gabby Petito died by strangulation, was a victim of domestic violence, and her body lay undiscovered in the remote Wyoming wilderness for up to four weeks after her murder, a coroner revealed Tuesday.    

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue released the findings of the 22-year-old van-life vlogger’s autopsy in a press briefing Tuesday afternoon.

CNN later obtained an official docket saying Petito had been killed by manual strangulation, meaning she’d hadn’t been strangled using a ligature such as a cord or belt.  Dr Blue had refused to comment further on how Petito was strangled during his press conference. 

He spoke as Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie spent his fourth week missing without trace as cops continue to search for him.

‘We find the cause of death to be strangulation and the manner is homicide,’ said Blue. 

Blue said he could not determine the specific date Petito was murdered, saying only that ‘the body was in the wilderness for three-to-four weeks’ and that an ‘approximate date’ would have to be placed on her death certificate. 

Petito’s body was discovered in a campsite close to the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 19 – eight days after her family reported her missing, and 22 days after the last reported sighting of her alive on August 27.  

The coroner refused to reveal several details about the autopsy’s findings including: the condition of Petito’s body, if her body was buried, whether any drugs were found in her system and whether she was killed in the same spot her body was found.

He did confirm that Petito was not pregnant at the time of her death – after internet sleuths circulated that theory online in recent days. Blue added that DNA samples had been taken by law enforcement as the investigation into her murder and who was responsible continues.   

Gabby Petito (pictured) was killed by strangulation and her body lay for three to four weeks before it was found, the autopsy results revealed Tuesday

Gabby Petito (pictured) was killed by strangulation and her body lay for three to four weeks before it was found, the autopsy results revealed Tuesday

Gabby Petito (pictured) was killed by strangulation and her body lay for three to four weeks before it was found, the autopsy results revealed Tuesday

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue released the cause of the 22-year-old van-life vlogger's death in a videoconference press briefing (above) Tuesday afternoon

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue released the cause of the 22-year-old van-life vlogger's death in a videoconference press briefing (above) Tuesday afternoon

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue released the cause of the 22-year-old van-life vlogger’s death in a videoconference press briefing (above) Tuesday afternoon

Blue said he could not comment on whether his findings pointed to Laundrie being the murderer – before slipping up and describing Petito as a victim of domestic violence. 

‘I cannot make any comment about any suspects as we are not involved in that part of the investigation,’ he said.

‘So who committed the homicide is really to be confirmed by law enforcement.’ 

However, he then referred to the case as ‘domestic violence’, saying there are many domestic abuse incidents but that this had gained greater attention due to Petito being a YouTube blogger. 

‘It was quite the media circus and continues to be. Unfortunately, this is one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence,’ he said. 

‘It’s unfortunate that other deaths do not get as much coverage as this one.’ 

The coroner’s briefing still left more questions than it answered as he refused to provide further details when asked in the question-and-answer session.  

Blue refused to say whether any other bruising or injuries had been found on Petito’s body and what condition her body was found in.

When asked about any drugs being found in her system, he said only the cause and manner of death is released in the state of Wyoming and not the toxicology tests. 

Blue also refused to confirm whether Petito’s body was buried or left out in the open in the remote location close to the campsite.

He also wouldn’t reveal if his findings showed she was killed at the site her remains were found or if her body was moved there after being murdered in another location. 








Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito. He has been on the run for more than three weeks following their doomed campervan trip

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito. He has been on the run for more than three weeks following their doomed campervan trip

Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito. He has been on the run for more than three weeks following their doomed campervan trip

A memorial of stones arranged in a cross pattern at the Spread Creek Dispersed Campsite east of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 20 - where Petito's body was found one day earlier

A memorial of stones arranged in a cross pattern at the Spread Creek Dispersed Campsite east of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 20 - where Petito's body was found one day earlier

A memorial of stones arranged in a cross pattern at the Spread Creek Dispersed Campsite east of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 20 – where Petito’s body was found one day earlier 

Timeline of Gabby Petito case

  • July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip
  • August 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple
  • Aug. 17: Laundrie allegedly flies back to Florida to ‘clear out a storage unit’   
  • Aug. 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah 
  • Aug. 23: Laundrie flies back to Utah to ‘rejoin Gabby’ on their trip 
  • Aug. 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie
  • Aug. 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park
  • Aug. 25 or 26: The couple chats with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes 
  • Aug. 27: Video of Petito’s van was taken by blogger Jenn Bethune, of Red White & Bethune, around 6.30 pm at the Spread Creek Campground; Witnesses say they saw a ‘commotion’ with the couple at Merry Piglets Tex-mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming – if accurate, this appears to be the last known sighting of Petito 
  • Aug. 29: The day that Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker claimed that she and her boyfriend were approached by Laundrie at Grand Teton National Park and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm; Schmidt says she is not entertaining this claim and believes it possibly factual
  • Aug. 30: Schmidt receives the last text from Petito: ‘No service in Yosemite’
  • Sept. 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito
  • Sept. 6-7: Laundrie and his parents visit Fort De Soto campsite in Florida
  • Sept. 11: Schmidt reports Petito missing to authorities in New York; Petito and Laundrie’s van was impounded by police in Florida that same day
  • Sept. 12: Grand Teton National Park rangers search for Petito
  • Sept. 13: Laundrie’s lawyer says on October 5 that his parents now ‘believe’ this was the day they last saw him heading for a hike
  • Sept. 14: Laundrie issues a statement about Petito’s disappearance through his lawyer; Laundrie’s parents claim on September 17 that Laundrie left his parents’ home for a hike this day and they hadn’t seen from him since 
  • Sept. 15: Laundrie is officially named a person of interest in Petito’s case
  • Sept. 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown
  • Sept. 18: North Port police and the FBI start searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County for missing Brian Laundrie
  • Sept. 19: Bethune realizes she has video of Petito’s van around 12am and submits the FBI with the footage 10 minutes later; Officials announce a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Petito’s description in the afternoon
  • Sept. 21: Coroner confirms remains found in Grand Tetons belong to Petito. Her death is ruled a homicide but her cause of death is still under invesetigation
  • Sept. 20 – 22: FBI and North Port police continue search for Laundrie in Carton Reserve 
  • Sept. 22: Neighbors say they saw the Laudrie family pack up their detached camper on the day Gabby was reported missing. DailyMail.com photos show the camper was back in the driveway two days later, on September 13 
  • Sept. 23: FBI issues an arrest warrant for Laundrie for ‘use of unauthorized access device’ for fraudulently using a Capitol One Bank debit card that was not his between August 30 and September 1 to spend $1,000; A probe is launched into the police handling of the Utah police incident on Aug. 12; Laundrie’s parents visit their attorney in Orlando 
  • Sept. 25: Dog the Bounty Hunter joins the search for Laundrie 
  • Sept. 26: A funeral is held for Petito in Holbrook, New York, and her family launch a charity to help parents find missing children 
  • Sept. 27: Manhunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve is scaled back after 10 day search doesn’t find him. Dog the Bounty Hunter says Laundrie and his parents stayed at Fort De Soto Park from September 1-3 and September 6-8 – and that on the latter visit only the parents left 
  • Sept. 28: Laundrie’s mom is accused of using a burner phone to contact her son Sept. 29: Documents reveal Laundrie’s mom canceled a reservation for the Fort De Soto Park campsite for two from September 1 to 3 and booked for three from September 6 to 8; FBI seizes surveillance footage from site; FBI investigates lead Laundrie bought a burner phone on September 14; Dog the Bounty Hunter searches the area near Fort De Soto finding a recently drunk can of Monster Energy at a makeshift campsite deep in the woods 
  • Sept. 30: Bodycam footage from a second officer at the August 12 incident is released showing a distressed Petito admitting Laundrie hit her; FBI agents collect more evidence from the Laundrie home 
  • Oct. 1: It emerges Laundrie’s sister had contact with him after she said she did 
  • Oct. 2: A hiker along the Appalachian Trail claims to have seen Laundrie near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina 
  • Oct. 3: Investigators searched the area on the Appalachian trail for any signs that Laundrie had been there  
  • Oct. 4: Laundrie’s sister told protestors outside her home that her family has been ignoring her after they rebuked her story and that she does not know where her brother is
  • Oct 5: Laundrie’s sister appeared on Good Morning America to say she would turn her brother in if she knew where he is; The Laundrie attorney says his parents now ‘believe’ he went on the run one day earlier than they first claimed (September 13 not 14) meaning he had a four-day headstart before they reported him missing to authorities; The attorney also says Laundrie flew from Utah to Florida on Aug. 17 without Petito to clear out a storage unit then returned on Aug. 23; A hiker reports a sighting of a person he believed to be Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail near the Tennessee border
  • Oct 6: Petito’s parents and step-parents appear together on Dr. Phil to discuss their daughter’s death. Her family paints a vivid picture of the scene where her body was found and encourages Laundrie to turn himself in; The Laundrie family lawyer says his father Christopher went to look for him on the night of Sept. 13 when he didn’t return from the park
  • Oct. 7: Laundrie’s father Christopher joins FBI agents on the search for his son at the Carlton Reserve but the search brings up no clues; FBI says it is also investigating 11 alleged sightings of Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail near the North Carolina-Tennessee border; investigators confirmed neither Petito or Laundrie’s phones were found in the couple’s campervan
  • Oct. 8: North Port Police spokesperson says there is a ‘lot of oddness’ with Laundrie’s parents handling of the situation and that ‘a lot of things that didn’t make sense’ about their version of events
  • Oct. 12: Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announces autopsy findings which show Petito died by strangulation; No specific date of death was given – only that she was dead 3-4 weeks before her body was found 

 

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When asked why the autopsy results took almost one month to release, the coroner said it had involved various experts joining the investigation and detailed toxicology testing. 

‘It was just a matter of making sure we had everything right,’ he said. 

Steven Bertolino, the attorney for Laundrie and his parents, released a statement as soon as the autopsy was released calling her death a ‘tragedy’ and saying his client is only ‘a person of interest’ – rather than a suspect – in her death. 

‘Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy,’ Bertolino said. 

‘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.’ 

Petito’s mom fired back at the attorney’s comments, telling WFLA: ‘His words are garbage. Keep talking.’ 

Dog the Bounty Hunter, who launched his own search for Laundrie last month before cutting it short Monday due to an ankle injury, also released a statement saying the coroner’s findings make the fugitive ‘look guilty.’

‘The coroner’s statement has established a timeline that looks worse for Brian Laundrie. His continued evasion of law enforcement makes him look guilty. His best decision now would be to turn himself in,’ said Dog. 

‘I can’t fathom how Brian’s parents can live with themselves after how they’ve stonewalled the Petito family. They need to be doing more to signal Brian to stop running.’  

Dog announced Monday he had flown back to Colorado due to an ankle injury, leaving behind a team to continue in their search as he said he was trying to raise more money for what he described as an ‘expensive search.’

DailyMail.com revealed Tuesday that Dog had been on his honeymoon in Florida when he decided to cut it short to join the search for Laundrie 100 miles north in the state in late September.  

The coroner previously ruled the manner of Petito’s death a homicide but the cause of her death was not disclosed, pending further autopsy results. 

In Wyoming, the term homicide encompasses varying degrees of murder and manslaughter and so the circumstances of her death were a mystery until now. 

While the autopsy was not able to determine an exact cause of death it matches the timeline based on the last sightings of the 22-year-old and her final conversations with her loved ones. 

The FBI has been focusing its investigation around the belief Petito was killed between August 27 and August 30.  

Petito last spoke to her mom Nichole Schmidt over the phone on August 25. 

The last reports of Petito being seen alive were on August 27 when witnesses said they saw the couple involved in a ‘commotion’ in a restaurant in Wyoming. 

That same day, Schmidt received an ‘odd’ text message from her daughter’s phone where she referred to her grandfather as ‘Stan’ – sending alarm bells that something was wrong.

On August 30, her mom received the last text message from Petito’s phone reading: ‘No service in Yosemite.’ Petito’s phone has never been found.  

Laundrie, 23, allegedly used Petito’s stolen bank card to spend around $1,000 between August 30 and September 1 and returned to his family’s home in North Port, Florida, on September 1. 

Laundrie is the sole person of interest in his fiancée’s disappearance and death but has not yet been charged in connection with it.

It is not clear if he is even still alive to potentially face charges. 

A warrant was issued for his arrest on September 23 over the stolen Capitol One Bank card. The attorney for Petito’s family said last week the card belonged to her. 

Petito set off on a once in a lifetime four-month-long trip with Laundrie on July 2, traveling across America in the couple’s white campervan and documenting their adventures on YouTube.  

On September 1, Laundrie returned to his family’s home in North Port, Florida, without his fiancée but driving their white Ford van. 

Laundrie did not report her missing and, in the days that followed, he and his parents allegedly ignored her concerned family’s pleas for information about her whereabouts.

Petito was reported missing on September 11 by her mom and police visited the Laundrie’s home. 

But the Laundrie family lawyered up and refused to let cops speak to the 23-year-old about his fiancée’s whereabouts.

On September 17, two days before Petito’s body was discovered, Laundrie’s parents Christopher and Roberta told cops their son had gone missing.  

Their version of events has changed in the weeks that followed – first telling authorities Laundrie had left their home to head to the Carlton Reserve nature park on September 14 and didn’t return.

Now, the fugitive’s parents have claimed they actually ‘believe’ Laundrie set off from their home one day earlier on September 13, meaning he had a four-day head start before they finally reported him missing to authorities. 

The exact timing of when Laundrie went on the run is not clear.   

Police revealed last week that they did not see or speak to Laundrie at all after Petito was reported missing. 

It is not clear if authorities have any evidence of Laundrie even being at the family home prior to September 13.  

The young couple were stopped by police in Moab, Utah, back on August 12 after a witness reported seeing a man slapping a woman outside a grocery store before driving off in a white van.

Bodycam footage has revealed Petito told cops Laundrie had hit her and cut her face by grabbing her ‘with his nail’.

The video shows a cop pointing out ‘new’ marks on Petito’s face and arm and asking if Laundrie had hit her, to which she replies: ‘I guess.’

‘He like grabbed me with his nail, and I guess that’s why it looks, I definitely have a cut right here. I can feel it, when I touch it it burns,’ she tells the officer. 

The 22-year-old quickly backtracks and defends her fiancé, saying she ‘hit him first’ when he locked her out of their van and refused to let her in.  

Laundrie meanwhile instantly defends himself and pushes the blame onto Petito for the altercation as soon as the cops arrive on the scene.

He claims Petito was ‘really worked up’ and that he ‘was just trying to push her away’ when asked about allegations he had hit her.  

The young couple were stopped by police in Moab, Utah, back on August 12 after a witness reported seeing a man slapping a woman. Bodycam footage showed Gabby Petito telling cops Brian Laundrie had hit her

The young couple were stopped by police in Moab, Utah, back on August 12 after a witness reported seeing a man slapping a woman. Bodycam footage showed Gabby Petito telling cops Brian Laundrie had hit her

The young couple were stopped by police in Moab, Utah, back on August 12 after a witness reported seeing a man slapping a woman. Bodycam footage showed Gabby Petito telling cops Brian Laundrie had hit her

The video shows a cop pointing out 'new' marks on Petito's face and arm and asking if Laundrie had hit her, to which she replies: 'I guess'

The video shows a cop pointing out 'new' marks on Petito's face and arm and asking if Laundrie had hit her, to which she replies: 'I guess'

The video shows a cop pointing out ‘new’ marks on Petito’s face and arm and asking if Laundrie had hit her, to which she replies: ‘I guess’ 

Meanwhile, Laundrie instantly defends himself and pushes the blame onto Petito as soon as the cop arrives on the scene

Meanwhile, Laundrie instantly defends himself and pushes the blame onto Petito as soon as the cop arrives on the scene

Meanwhile, Laundrie instantly defends himself and pushes the blame onto Petito as soon as the cop arrives on the scene








Bodycam footage from one Moab officer was released when Petito was still a missing person, showing Petito telling the officer she slapped Laundrie, while he is seen showing the cop scratches on his face and arm, which he claims were caused when she ‘hit me with her phone’.

A second officer’s camera was released on September 30, with some of the previous inaudible comments by the couple revealed for the first time.  

The cops determined Petito was ‘the primary aggressor’ and separated them for the night.  

The domestic incident less than two weeks before she was last seen alive. 

A probe has been launched into the police handling of the August 12 incident and Moab City Police Department Chief Bret Edge has since taken a leave of absence pending the investigation.  

Meanwhile, the manhunt for Laundrie has entered its fourth week with the search continuing to focus on the Carlton Reserve, close to the Laundrie family home.

Laundrie’s dad Christopher joined the search last Thursday as his family continues to face mounting scrutiny over what they know.  

The FBI is also investigating 11 alleged sightings of Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail near the North Carolina-Tennessee border. 

The pair had been traveling on a cross-country trip together since July 2, when they left New York. Petito was reported missing on September 11

The pair had been traveling on a cross-country trip together since July 2, when they left New York. Petito was reported missing on September 11

The pair had been traveling on a cross-country trip together since July 2, when they left New York. Petito was reported missing on September 11

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