Gabby Petito’s cause of death and the results of her final autopsy were revealed at a press conference with Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue on Tuesday, October 12, 2021. He provided an update in the case at 12:30 p.m. Mountain Time and said Petito died from strangulation.
“We hereby find the cause and manner of death to be, the cause: death by strangulation, and manner is homicide,” Blue said during the press conference.
WESH 2 News reported just before the press conference Blue was expected to provide new information on Petito’s final autopsy and take brief questions from reporters.
Ex-FBI agent Jennifer Coffindaffer told Brian Entin of News Nation Now before the press conference that she expected the details would be limited.
“I think the coroner is going to release the official results; however, I will be very surprised if he releases the exact cause of death, the manner death, beyond a homicide,” Coffindaffer told the news outlet.
Petito was reported missing September 11, 2021, 10 days after her fiance, Brian Laundrie, 23, returned from a road trip without her. The remains of the 22-year-old van life blogger were found Sunday, September 19, 2021, in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Officials are conducting a manhunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve, a swampy nature preserve in Florida.
An arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie on Thursday, September 23, 2021, related to Wyoming federal court allegations on the use of “unauthorized devices” following Petito’s death, according to NBC News. Officials told NBC that the arrest warrant is related to allegations he used a debit card he was not permitted to use and is not directly related to Petito’s death. He is considered a person of interest in her case.
Here’s what you need to know:
Petito’s Remains Were Released to a Mortuary, Which Is Working With the Family & Her Body Was ‘in the Wilderness’ for Weeks
Blue said the autopsy findings followed a detailed investigation involving a forensic pathologist and forensic anthropologist, in addition to assistance provided by the FBI. Petito’s remains were released to a mortuary, which is working with the Petito family, Blue said. Petito’s family held a funeral service for her on Sunday, September 26, 2021, before her remains had been released.
Blue said that investigators were able to determine an approximate time of death, which was estimated to be well before her body was found.
“We are estimating three to four weeks from the time that the body was found,” he said.
He later added her body was “outside in the wilderness” for that period of time.
Blue would not say whether there were any healing injuries on her body, such as bruising, that may have occurred earlier. He cited Wyoming state law and declined to elaborate in response to a reporter’s question on prior injuries.
Blue added that he could not comment on the FBI investigation and whether law enforcement would file an arrest warrant for homicide. He said Petito’s body was outside for three to four weeks before she was found, but did not comment on the condition of her remains. Blue said DNA samples were taken.
When asked why the information on the autopsy results was not released sooner, he said they were very detailed in their investigation and waiting for specialists and toxicology results.
“It was just a matter of making sure we had everything right,” he said.
While Blue emphasized he could not comment on suspects, he did comment on domestic violence and the media attention given to the case.
“This is just one death of many across the country caused by domestic violence. It’s unfortunate other deaths did not get as much coverage as this one,” Blue said.
Petito’s Dad, Joseph Petito, Said His Daughter’s Instagram Page Is All He Has Left of Her
Gabby Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, told People he mourned when his daughter’s Instagram page was briefly taken down. Although it was quickly restored, he said her account was the only thing he had left of his little girl. At the time of the interview with People, Petito’s body had not yet been found.
“I cried for like 10 minutes,” Joseph Petito said after the page was removed. “I’m not naive to how these stories usually end. So, if it does end that way — and that’s a big if — those pictures were all I had left.”
Petito described his daughter as “so amazing” in his interview with People.
“She’s so artistic. She’s an amazing artist. She loves to draw. She has a great eye with decorating … She’s that flower child type of personality. The old soul, you know?” he told People.
He added, “If Woodstock was still going on, she’d still be there, man. She’s a hippie from the ’60s, all right? She’s a Beatles fan, round glasses … a free spirit.”
“That is not how you raise a child. You raise your children to stand up and own up to your mistakes,” Joseph Petito said on Dr. Phil. “As a man that is what I do. From father to father he should be doing that too. And I’m sorry, I understand protecting your kid and all that other stuff but in my opinion, you’re a coward.”
Petito’s Mom, Nichole Schmidt, Told Investigators the Last Texts She Received From Her Daughter’s Phone Drew Suspicions
Gabby Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, told investigators that the last text she received from her daughter’s phone made her suspicious, especially in hindsight, according to WFLA. Schmidt told authorities that a text on August 27, 2021, was one of the last she received. That was also the day witnesses said they spotted Petito and Laundrie in an argument at The Merry Piglets restaurant.
“Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls,” the text said, according to a search warrant reviewed by WFLA.
Schmidt said that Stan is Gabby Petito’s grandfather, but that Petito never referred to her grandpa by his first name.
According to The Deseret, Petito’s attorney Richard Stafford said another text came from Petito’s phone that said “No service from Yosemite.”
Her social media activity ceased on August 25, 2021, two days before her mom received the text referencing “Stan.”