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Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old influencer whose disappearance sparked a national outcry, died by strangulation, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said in a press conference Tuesday.
Blue had previously ruled Petito’s death a homicide, a determination he again affirmed on Tuesday. The Wyoming coroner declined to speculate on who may have committed the homicide, saying that was a matter for law enforcement.
Petito’s family first reported her missing after her fiancé, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, returned home alone to Florida on Sept. 1. The pair had been on a long road trip that celebrated “vanlife,” documenting their journey on their social media accounts. The trip was interrupted on Aug. 12, when police in Moab, Utah, encountered the couple having some sort of dispute.
Petito can be seen crying in footage from the incident. She told police that she’d hit Laundrie and said she was afraid Laundrie would strand her without a ride, while Laundrie told the cops in a separate conversation that he loved Petito. In a 911 call, a caller reported seeing Laundrie “slapping” Petito.
Petito’s remains were found on Sept. 19 in Bridger-Teton National Forest.
“Her body was outside, in the wilderness, for three to four weeks,” Blue said. He declined to say whether Petito’s body may have been moved.
Laundrie’s parents reported that Laundrie, who had refused to speak to police, had also gone missing in mid-September. The FBI has previously named Laundrie as a person of interest in the case, but he has not been found by the authorities.
“It was quite the media circus and continues to be,” Blue said of the Petito case. “Unfortunately, this is only one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence, and it’s unfortunate that these other deaths do not get as much coverage as this one.”