Oct. 12, 2021 Gabby Petito's autopsy report (2024)

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6:11 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

Here's a timeline of how Gabby Petito's case unfolded

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Oct. 12, 2021 Gabby Petito's autopsy report (1)

Gabby Petito's cause of death was ruled to be strangulation and the manner of death was homicide, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announced on Tuesday.

He said that the time of Petito's death was estimated to be about three to four weeks before her body was found on September 19 in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.

Today's announcement follows a string of developments in the case. On Sept. 22 the FBI in Denver confirmed that the remains found in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest were those by Petito, a 22-year-old womanwho disappeared while on a trip exploring national parkswith her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

"Anyone with information concerning Mr. Laundrie's role in this matter or his current whereabouts should contact the FBI," Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said.

Petito had been traveling with Laundrie prior to her disappearance.

Local and federal authorities have been searchingfor him in a 25,000-acre Florida nature reserve. In late September,the FBIannounced a federal arrest warrantwas issued for Laundrie for his activities after Petito's death.

Here's what we know about the timeline in Petito's case:

June: Petito and Laundrie embarked on a cross-country trip, according to North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison, who refers to Laundrie as Petito's fiancé.

They planned to travel in Petito's white Ford van to the West Coast and visit state and national parks across the western United States, Garrison said at a news briefing.

She had been excited to share her journey with her family and others on social media, he said.

"She maintained regular contact with her family members during her travels; however, that communication abruptly stopped around the end of August," the police chief added.

Aug. 12: Moab, Utah, police had an encounter with the couple on Aug. 12, where officers described them as having "engaged in some sort of altercation."

Although the two were described as getting into a physical fight following an argument, "both the male and female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn't wish to see anyone charged with a crime," a report from Officer Eric Pratt said.

At officers' suggestion, the couple separated for the night, according to the report, which described Petito as "confused and emotional."

"After evaluating the totality of the circ*mstances, I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis," Officer Daniel Robbins wrote in the report. No charges were filed.

The couple each had their own cell phones in case of emergency, the report added.

In a 911 audio recording from that day provided by the Grand County Sheriff's Office, a caller told dispatch he wanted to report a domestic dispute and described a white van with a Florida license plate.

The caller said as they were driving by, "the gentleman was slapping the girl."

"Then we stopped," the caller added. "They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off."

Aug. 17: Laundrie flew to Tampa, Florida, from Salt Lake City on Aug. 17, according to Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino.

Laundrie "flew home to obtain some items and empty and close the storage unit to save money as they contemplated extending the road trip," Bertolino told CNN.

On Aug. 23, Laundrie returned to Salt Lake City to rejoin Petito, the attorney said, adding, "To my knowledge, Brian and Gabby paid for the flights as they were sharing expenses."

Read the full timeline here.

CNN's Eric Levenson contributed reporting to this post.

4:37 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

Gabby Petito's cause of death was "manual strangulation," according to coroner

From CNN’s Jennifer Henderson and Leyla Santiago

The cause of death of Gabby Petito was “manual strangulation/throttling,” according to the Teton County Coroner’s verdict/written docket filed by Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue on Oct. 5.

During a news conference earlier Tuesday, Blue said the cause of death was strangulation, but did not go into specifics of the strangulation.

The written docket was filed with the Teton County Clerk of District Court.

3:15 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

Laundrie family attorney reacts to cause of death in Gabby Petito homicide

The family attorney for Brian Laundrie’s family Tuesday reacted to the coroner’s ruling that Gabby Petito died by strangulation.

“Gabby Petito’s death at such a young age is a tragedy,” attorney Steve Bertolino told CNN.

“WhileBrian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise,” he added.

“At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him," he said.

5:24 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

Coroner laments most cases aren'tcovered like Gabby Petito's

From CNN's Josiah Ryan andRebekah Riess

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue described an ongoing "media circus" around the Gabby Petito case.

"Unfortunately, this is just one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence," he said, speaking at a news conference this afternoon. "It's unfortunate that these other deaths do not get as much coverage as this one."

He also clarified that his office was "only tasked with the determination of cause and manner of death.Who committed the homicide is up to law enforcement."

CNN has reached out to Denver FBI, Moab City police, and the Teton County coroner for clarification and comment regarding the coroner’s statement on domestic violence.

Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, has not been charged in the death of Petito, but he was indicted on charges of using two financial accounts that did not belong to him in the days following her death.

On Aug. 12, several weeks before she was apparently killed, Moab City Police Department responded to a 911 call from a bystander who reported a possible domestic dispute involving the couple and their white van, and the ensuing police interaction was captured by police body-camera footage and a police report.

In body-camera footage from an officer who responded to the call, one officer explained that they considered Petito to be the aggressor and Laundrie to be the victim.According to the police report, Petito slapped Laundrie "who grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van."No one was charged in the dispute.

Following Tuesday’s news conference by the Teton County coroner, Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino reacted to the coroner’s ruling that Petito died by strangulation, pointing out that “while Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise.”

“At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located, we will address the pending fraud charge against him,” Bertolino added.

Blue, the Teton County coroner, said Petito's online presence may be one reason her case has drawn such outsized scrutiny from the national media.

"I'm assuming that because the deceased was a blogger that this received more coverage than others, but there are a lot of both men and women who have lost their lives that aren't covered with this kind of media attention," he said.

Her case has elicited heartbreak, outrage and intrigue in much of the public, but it has also highlighted the tens of thousands of missing persons' stories that do not garner such intense interest. There were nearly 90,000 active missing person cases as of the end of 2020, according to theNational Crime Information Center.Few missing person cases are met withas much urgency and national attention as Petito's.

Reporting from CNN'sMadeline HolcombeandEric Levensoncontributed to this report.

3:03 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

Here's why the DNA samples from the Gabby Petito autopsy are important

The Teton County coroner who performed the autopsy on Gabby Petito said that DNA samples were taken from her body. CNN correspondent Jean Casarez said these samples could be "critically important" in the criminal investigation.

"Prosecutors are very interestedin DNA because DNA —foreignDNA on her, meaning not her ownDNA, can be criticallyimportant, and there are thingscalled defensive strikes,defensive wounds, and they lookunder the nails to see if thereis any foreign DNA," Casarez said.

Casarez noted that "if there was anything thatcould show a perpetrator...was committing an actagainst her, that DNA could beused" in a criminal case.

Casey Jordan, criminologist and behavioral analyst, said that where the forensic investigators extracted the DNA from her body could yield a "more damning source" of DNA from her attacker.

"Skin under the nails, trying tofight off her attacker, thenthat is more damning source ofDNA than just a hair or fiberthat may have been found onsomething she was wearing," Jordan said.

Jordan told CNN that DNA "is the thingthat your investigators arereally going to use to build anairtight case against the personwho killed her."

3:09 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

Petito's body was left in the wilderness for 3-4 weeks, coroner says

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Oct. 12, 2021 Gabby Petito's autopsy report (2)

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue said there are many details about the condition of Gabby Petito's body he cannot yet reveal due to local rules.

Blue, however, did say that the body had been left in the wilderness for three to four weeks before it was discovered and examined.

"All I can really comment on is that is that her body was outside in the wilderness for three to four weeks," said Blue, when asked by a reporter at a news conference today if he could describe any impact on the body from the natural surroundings.

Blue declined to say whether the body had bruising, or whether the body had been buried or left above ground.

He said that Petito was not pregnant at the time of her death.

2:50 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

Gabby Petito's cause of death was strangulation, coroner says

Gabby Petito's cause of death was strangulation, and the manner of death was homicide, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue just announced at a news conference.

Officials previously announced her death was a homicide in preliminary findings.

The coroner said that the body had been in the wilderness for three to four weeks before it had been discovered.

Blue explained that it took a month to reach a final autopsy because officials were very "exacting" in their examination of the details.

He noted that they were also waiting for other specialists to arrive to help with this investigation and for toxicology to be returned.

"It was just amatter of making sure we hadeverything right," he told reporters.

The news conference is ongoing.

2:23 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

Where things stand in the search for Brian Laundrie

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

Gabby Petito's disappearanceanddeath have sparked many questions and stoked national attention, and on Tuesday a piece of the mystery could be revealed as authorities are scheduled to provide an update on her final autopsy report.

Petito had spent the summer traveling the Western US with her fiancé, 23-year-oldBrian Laundrie, and documenting their adventures on social media. But when Laundrie returned to the Florida home they shared with his parents in their van, Petito wasn't with him.

The mystery has deepened given thedisappearance of Laundrie, who went for a hike in a local Florida nature reserve shortly after Petito was reported missing, according to his parents.

Before he disappeared, police in North Port weresurveilling Laundrie as best they legally could, a police spokesperson told CNN's Randi Kaye.

Investigators said Laundrie's parents told them on Sept. 17 that he had left home days earlier and was headed to the nearby Carlton Reserve — sparking a search of the nature reserve's 25,000 acres. Initially, his parents said he left on Sept. 14, but last week, Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said, "We now believe the day Brian left to hike in the preserve was Monday, September 13."

When he left, he didn't take his cell phone and wallet with him, and his parents were concerned he might hurt himself, a source close to Laundrie's family told CNN's Chris Cuomo.

At the time, Laundrie was not wanted in connection with a crime, but North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor said Laundrie had an "enormous amount of pressure" on him to provide answers in Petito's disappearance.

The FBI searched the Laundrie home on Sept. 20, removing a number of items and towing away a Ford Mustang convertible.

Where things stand now in the search: Attention then turned toward the Carlton nature preserve, where authorities combed through swampland filled with snakes and alligators, utilizing drones, dive teams and bloodhounds.

After more than a week of searching for Laundrie, theFBI went back to his parents,asking for personal items of his to assist with DNA matching. They provided what they could, Bertolino, the Laundries' lawyer, told multiple news outlets.

Laundrie's father has participated in a search of the nature reserve for him, but he has no plans to assist in police searches, and the couple will not take a polygraph test, Bertolino said.

2:09 p.m. ET, October 12, 2021

What we know about Petito's final days

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

From the posts on social media,Gabby Petito's final dayslooked idyllic. But after she was reported missing, accounts surfaced of rising conflict between the couple.

Petito called her mom regularly, and those conversations appeared to reveal there was "more and more tension" in Petito's relationship, according to a police affidavit for a search warrant of an external hard drive found in the couple's van.

On Aug. 27, an "odd text" from Petito worried her mother that something was wrong, according to a search warrant.

"Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls," the message read, according to the affidavit. Stan was a reference to Petito's grandfather, who her mother said Petito never referred to that way, according to the affidavit.

Along their travels, the couple was stopped by policeafter a 911 caller told dispatchers Aug. 12 he saw a man hitting a woman, according to audio provided by the Grand County Sheriff's Office in Moab, Utah.

"We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl," the caller said. "Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off."

CNN obtained dispatch audio recordings from the Grand County Sheriff's office last month that shed more light on what Moab police were told about "some sort of altercation."

And on Aug. 27, a witness described a "commotion" as they were leaving the Merry Piglets Tex-Mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming.

Petito was in tears, and Laundrie was visibly angry, going in and out of the restaurant several times, showing anger toward the staff around the hostess stand, witness Nina Angelo said. The couple's waitress was also visibly shaken by the incident, said Angelo, who told CNN she did not see any violence or physical altercation between Petito and Laundrie.

A manager at Merry Piglets, who declined to give her name, did see "an incident" at the restaurant and called the FBI, she told CNN. The manager declined to describe what happened and said the restaurant did not have surveillance video of the incident.

Oct. 12, 2021 Gabby Petito's autopsy report (2024)

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