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Coroner: Petito died by strangulation

Along with the search for missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito, local and federal authorities in Florida are looking for Petito's fiance Brian Laundrie after his family told police they haven't seen him since Tuesday.

JACKSON, Wyo — At a press conference on Tuesday, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed that Gabby Petito died by strangulation and that her death is considered a homicide.  Dr. Blue also indicated that because of Wyoming state law, no other information can be released from the autopsy unless there is such permission from the family.

According to Blue, he was only allowed to speak about the cause and manner of Gabby Petito’s death, so many of the questions reporters asked him went unanswered.  However, he was able to say how long Petito’s body was left in the wilderness before it was found on September 19th.

“Our initial determination is the body was in the wilderness for three to four weeks,” he said.

Blue was not able to answer whether or not Petito had other injuries on her body that would indicate she was beaten before she was strangled, nor could he talk about whether she was strangled by hand or if some sort of rope or other ligature was used.

Why did this autopsy take nearly a month?  Blue said they wanted to be as thorough as possible, which included waiting for toxicology reports to come back.

Blue said, “This autopsy included a whole-body cat-scan, an examination by forensic pathologists and an examination by a forensic anthropologist.”



Charges ready to be filed?

Investigators with the FBI say this is still an active investigation, so they won’t be releasing more details about how she died.  Plus, there was no update on the whereabouts of Petito’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who disappeared in mid-September before Petito’s body was recovered.  Even though Laundrie is still considered a “person of interest,” former Utah prosecutor Greg Skordas believes attorneys have everything they need to formally charge him if he’s found.

He said, “Their investigation seems to point very squarely at Mr. Laundrie, and no one else,” Skordas says.  “It doesn’t behoove a police agency to just zero in on one person, but in this case, I can’t imagine that there are any other suspects.”

Since Laundrie is still missing, Skordas says there isn’t a rush to file charges that proescutors normally have.  However, he doesn’t believe prosecutors need much more evidence than they already have.

“Although, they have done some investigation into his house and trying to get information, so, they may just be waiting for some of those findings to come back,” Skordas said.


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