The investigation into Gabby Petito’s death advanced this week with a Wyoming coroner’s report revealing she was the victim of homicide caused by manual strangulation.
For some experts following the case, however, the information released thus far still leaves gaping holes in the developing narrative.
“He said he could not answer”
Teton County coroner Brent Blue provided the update during a press conference on Tuesday, but it only raised new questions for forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht.
Petito, 22, was reported missing more than a month ago and her body was found days later at Bridger-Teton National Forest near Jackson Hole. Her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, has also disappeared and is wanted by authorities as a person of interest in the case.
Wecht speculated that Blue’s update this week was “quite disappointing” included only two important details of note: Petito’s cause of death and evidence that she had been dead for several weeks prior to the discovery of her remains.
“Well, three to four weeks is no surprise because that was the period of the time she was missing,” Wecht added, according to Fox News. “Strangulation is a diagnosis that requires some anatomical, pathological question, and every question he was asked, he said he could not answer…or [was] not permitted to answer.”
He described Blue’s office as “separate” and “independent” from any law enforcement agency, meaning he is not directly accountable to such authorities.
“He didn’t tell us that”
“I am puzzled by the diagnosis of strangulation because that must mean that it was manual strangulation with some fracture of the hyoid bone or the thyroid cartilage, and he didn’t tell us that, so we’ll have to wait until somebody — Laundrie, specifically — is found, arrested and charged,” Wecht said.
Petito and Laundrie had been spotted on Aug. 12 in Utah following an incident involving police. Although Petito took the blame for hitting Laundrie during an altercation, she told police that he grabbed her face.
A witness of that incident described seeing a male hit and slap a female, according to police reports.
Laundrie subsequently returned home to Florida without Petito, whose parents filed a missing person report on Sept. 11. Laundrie’s parents reported him missing on Sept. 17 and the FBI issued an arrest warrant six days later accusing him of illegally accessing Petito’s bank card to make purchases after her disappearance.
The developing case has attracted widespread media coverage over the past month amid swirling speculation regarding factors such as Laundrie’s possible whereabouts.