/Gabrielle Petito Died From Strangulation, Coroner Says – The New York Times

Gabrielle Petito Died From Strangulation, Coroner Says – The New York Times


Gabrielle Petito, the Florida woman whose disappearance led to a wide-ranging investigation into her fiancé, who returned home without her from a cross-country trip before disappearing himself, died from strangulation, the authorities said on Tuesday.

Dr. Brent Blue, the Teton County, Wyo., coroner, did not disclose at a news briefing how Ms. Petito was strangled. He said her body had been outside for three to four weeks before it was found on Sept. 19 in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, in Wyoming.

The Teton County Coroner’s Office had determined on Sept. 21 that her death was a homicide, but Dr. Blue said on Tuesday that he did not know the exact day Ms. Petito died.

“There will not be an exact date of death on the death certificate,” he said.

Dr. Blue revealed little else about the condition of Ms. Petito’s body, though he said she was not pregnant at the time of her death. (Rumors had circulated that she was pregnant.) The authorities conducted a toxicology test on her body, which is being held at a local mortuary, but did not disclose the results. Dr. Blue directed further questions about the homicide to the F.B.I.

The police in Florida are still scouring a vast wildlife reserve in the state for Ms. Petito’s fiancé, Brian Laundrie, 23, who was described as a “person of interest” by the police. Before he went missing, Mr. Laundrie had through a lawyer declined to speak to investigators, the police said. The authorities later issued an arrest warrant for him on a charge of debit card fraud.

Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie set out to visit national parks and travel the country in July, in a white Ford van outfitted with a bed and other necessities as part of a “van life” adventure.

On Sept. 1, Mr. Laundrie returned to the North Port, Fla., home where he lived with his parents and Ms. Petito, in the van, which was registered to Ms. Petito.

Ten days later, Ms. Petito’s family reported her missing. The search for her soon involved the F.B.I. and National Park rangers and stretched across at least two states.

Then, six days after Ms. Petito was reported missing, Mr. Laundrie’s parents told the police they had not seen him for several days, starting a second search for a missing person. The authorities began to scour the 24,565 acres of a wildlife refuge, the Carlton Reserve, in Sarasota County, Fla., and the F.B.I. served a search warrant at the Laundrie residence.

As Ms. Petito’s family and the police pleaded for help from the public, the case drew intense interest on social media, including from some who scrutinized the couple’s cheerful Instagram posts and others who criticized the lack of similar attention on the cases of missing women of color.

Ms. Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, said last month that social media users had been “amazing” and “very influential” in his daughter’s case.

“To be honest, it should continue for other people, too,” he said at a news conference. “This same type of heightened awareness should be continued for everyone — everyone.”

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