Gabby Petito was strangled to death, Wyoming officials say after autopsy

Gabby Petito’s cause of death was strangulation, and the manner of death was homicide, Wyoming authorities have announced.

The Teton county coroner, Brent Blue, announced the findings of Petito’s autopsy at an afternoon news conference on Tuesday. He also estimated that Petito had died three to four weeks before her body was found, on 19 September.

It was unclear if the determination might lead to additional charges against Petito’s boyfriend and traveling partner, Brian Laundrie, who is considered a person of interest in her disappearance and remains unaccounted for.

Blue declined to say more about the autopsy or the case, saying he was prevented by Wyoming law that limits what coroners can release.

Petito had been on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend. She was reported missing on 11 September by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days while the couple visited parks in the US west.

Petito’s body was found near an undeveloped camping area in remote northern Wyoming along the border of Grand Teton national park. Blue previously classified Petito’s death as a homicide – meaning her death was caused by another person – but did not disclose how she was killed pending further autopsy results.

The search for Laundrie has generated a frenzy, with TV personalities like Duane Chapman, known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, and longtime America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh working to track him down.

The case has led to renewed calls for greater attention to cases involving missing Indigenous women and other people of color, with some commentators describing intense coverage of Petito’s disappearance as “missing white woman syndrome”.

Petito and Laundrie posted online about their trip in a white Ford Transit van converted into a camper. They got into a physical altercation on 12 August in Moab, Utah, that led to a police stop which ended with officers deciding to separate the quarreling couple for a night. No charges were filed, and no serious injuries were reported.

Investigators have searched for Laundrie in Florida and also and searched his parents’ home in North Port, about 35 miles south of Sarasota.

Federal officials in Wyoming last month charged Laundrie with unauthorized use of a debit card, alleging he used a Capital One Bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 during the period in which Petito went missing. They did not say who the card belonged to.

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