Gabby Petito died by “manual strangulation” at least three weeks before her remains were found, a Wyoming coroner said Tuesday, as a nationwide manhunt persisted for the woman’s missing fiancé. The Long Island woman’s body was discovered on Sept. 19 at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Bridger-Teton National Forest, and Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue had previously ruled her death a homicide.
But the 22-year-old’s official cause of death wasn’t disclosed until Tuesday, though Blue cited state law in limiting the amount of information he could share. In a memo dated Oct. 5 and filed on Tuesday, Blue listed Gabby Petito autopsy of death as a homicide and the cause as, “Death by manual strangulation/throttling.”
“Our initial determination is the body was in the wilderness for three to four weeks” before she was found, Blue told reporters, which would place her time of death in mid to late August. Throughout his meeting with reporters, Blue sidestepped questions about who could have been responsible for the woman’s death. But the coroner did appear to imply that Petito was a victim of domestic violence.
“This is only one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence and it’s unfortunate that these other deaths do not get as much coverage as this one,” Blue said. Steven Bertolino, an attorney for Laundrie’s family, reiterated that Brian Laundrie is not a suspect in Petito’s disappearance or death.
Brian Laundrie is still missing, and his whereabouts are unknown.
“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 and Laundrie were on a cross-country road trip, chronicling their travels on social media, before he returned to his parent’s home in North Port, Florida, arriving there Sept. 1 without his fiancée, police said. There have been numerous reported sightings of Laundrie up and down the East Coast since. Police have thus far only called Laundrie a “person of interest” in their investigation into Petito’s disappearance, but an arrest warrant was issued for him after authorities said he used her debit card without permission.
The disparity in national attention has been particularly infuriating to nearby Indigenous communities, where scores of Native American women have gone missing with little or no news coverage.