Young traveler Gabby Petito was strangled to death, a Wyoming medical examiner announced Tuesday.
Petito, 22, died three to four weeks before his body was found on Sept. 19 near a camping area in northern Wyoming, on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, he told a news conference. Teton County Coroner Brent Blue.
It was unclear if the determination could lead to additional charges against Petito’s boyfriend and travel companion Brian Laundrie, who is considered a person of interest in her disappearance and whose whereabouts are unknown.
Blue declined to say more about the autopsy or the case in general, noting that it was prevented by Wyoming law that limits what coroners can disclose.
Petito had embarked on a trip to the United States with her boyfriend. The couple documented their adventure on video and shared on social media scenes of an apparently happy couple doing cartwheels on a beach, hiking through mountains and camping in the Utah desert.
Petito’s parents reported him missing on September 11 after he did not respond to calls and texts for several days while the couple visited parks in the west of the country.
Blue had previously classified Petito’s death as a homicide, meaning that her death was caused by someone else, but did not reveal how she was killed, pending the results of the autopsy.
A «detailed analysis» led him to conclude that Petito was strangled, Blue said.
The coroner said little else about Petito’s physical condition – including whether she could have been strangled directly by someone’s hands, or with a rope or some other item – but pointed out when asked that she was not pregnant.
However, the three or four weeks that his body is believed to have been in the wild, place his death around the period of August 27-30 when investigators believe Petito and Laundrie had traveled to the area.
The Petito case has prompted new calls for people to pay more attention to the cases of indigenous women and other missing persons. Some commentators describe the intense coverage of her disappearance as the «missing white woman syndrome.»