Gabby Petito had gone on a cross-country trip with her boyfriend. She was reported missing on the 11th of September by her parents after she wasn’t taking calls or responding to texts for several days, while the couple visited parks in the West.
A Wyoming coroner announced on Tuesday that the cross-country traveller was strangled to death.
Petito died three to four weeks prior to September 19, when her body was found near an undeveloped camping area across the border of Grand Teton National Park in remote northern Wyoming, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue mentioned in a news conference.
It wasn’t clear enough whether the determination might lead to additional charges against Petito’s boyfriend and travelling partner — Brian Laundrie, who is considered a person of interest in her disappearance and remains unaccounted for.
Dr. Brent Blue refused to say further about the autopsy or the case overall, saying he was instructed by Wyoming law that limits what coroners can reveal.
Blue had initially classified Petito’s death as a homicide but had not disclosed how she was murdered pending more autopsy results.
Petito’s case has made people pay more attention to cases involving missing Indigenous women and other people of colour, along with some commentators explaining the intense coverage of her disappearance as “missing white woman syndrome.”
The search for Laundrie has created a frenzy, with TV personalities like Duane Chapman — known as Dog the Bounty Hunter — and longtime “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh looking for him.
Petito and Laundrie had posted about their trip online in a white Ford Transit van converted into a camper. They got into a physical argument on August 12 in Moab, Utah, that led to a police stop, which ended up with the police deciding to separate the couple for the night. No charges were filed, and no major injuries were reported.
FBI-led search teams have been looking in a broad nature preserve for signs of Laundrie, In Florida. Weeks of searching in the Carlton Reserve south of Sarasota; where Laundrie’s parents mention him going after returning home from the West — has shown nothing.
Laundrie’s family lawyer Steve Bertolino stated in an email there was “nothing new” in the search.