By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Gabby Petito died by strangulation and her body was left in Bridger-Teton National Park for three to four weeks before police found her, the Teton County coroner announced on Tuesday.
Dr. Brent Blue held a news conference to announce the manner and cause of death for Petito, whose body was found in the woods almost one month ago. Her death was ruled a homicide not long after she was found, but Blue officially announced the cause this week.
He could not reveal much information about how his office determined the manner of death or how they knew Petito had been in the woods for as long as she had, due to a Wyoming state statute. He also could not say whether Petito was killed in the woods and left there or if she had been killed elsewhere and her body was left in the park.
Blue also could not reveal an approximate date of death, but confirmed Petito’s remains have been released to a local mortuary, which will work with her family to return her to them.
Petito’s fiance, Brian Laundrie, is a person of interest in the investigation into her death, but has been missing since Sept. 17.
John Walsh, former host of “America’s Most Wanted,” questioned Blue about his thoughts on whether or not Laundrie was Petito’s killer.
“I think everybody in the world believes that Brian Laundrie killed Gabby,” he said.
Blue could not attest to who killed Petito, and continued to affirm her manner and cause of death only.
One reporter questioned Blue about why it took so long to get the autopsy results.
“The reason was that we were very exacting on our examination and the detail by which the examination was done,” Blue said. “It was just a matter of making sure we had everything right.”
Blue also confirmed that law enforcement took DNA samples from Petito’s remains.
Petito and Laundrie had been traveling the country in a van. On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to his home in Florida with the fan and without Petito. She was reported missing on Sept. 11.
A warrant has been issued for Laundrie’s arrest by the federal court in Cheyenne. The warrant does not accuse Laundrie of any role in Petito’s death, but accuses of him of unlawfully using a credit card in the days following her disappearance.
Police from various departments are searching for Laundrie. The case has also attracted national attention, meaning that the FBI and even reality star Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman have gotten involved in the search for Laundrie.