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Gabby Petito case: Coroner rules her death 'homicide'

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JACKSON, WYOMING — A preliminary autopsy report released from Teton County, in Wyoming, revealed her manner of death was homicide.

“Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999. Coroner Blue’s initial determination for the manner of death is homicide,” it said in a statement released from FBI Denver.

The cause of death is pending until autopsy results are final, he said.

Petito, 22, had been missing for weeks and her remains were discovered Sunday.

The Teton County coroner, Dr. Brent Blue, has a website noting a complete report sometimes takes weeks to process.

“The Coroner Report, also know as the Verdict, is available after completion of the investigation,” according to the Teton County Coroner’s Office website. “This usually takes two to three weeks but in some cases, may take much longer. The Coroner may, per State law, convene a Coroner’s Inquest which will increase the length of time required for the Report.”

It noted that the report is “governed by state law” and can only be released to the next of kin.

The Petito family released a short statement earlier Tuesday.

Coming from the Law Office of Richard B. Stafford, it thanked the media “for giving the Petito and Schmidt family time to grieve.”

The short news release from Stafford did not give much more information at this point.

“We will be making a statement when Gabby is home,” it said.

The investigation continues to focus on her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, 23, who is missing.

An attorney representing the Laundrie family released a one-sentence statement after the autopsy results were announced.

“May Gabby Rest In Peace,” read the statement from Steven Bertolino, out of New York.

Laundrie’s family said he left Tuesday, Sept. 14 to hike in the expansive T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Reserve — but they didn’t report him missing until Friday night.

The body of Petito was found Sunday, Sept. 19, near Bridger-Teton National Forest, which is adjacent to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. It was near where her car was seen in the Spread Creek campground.

“The FBI’s commitment to justice is at the forefront of each and every investigation,” FBI Denver Special Agent In Charge Michael Schneider said in a news release. “The FBI and our partners remain dedicated to ensuring anyone responsible for or complicit in Ms. Petito’s death is held accountable for the actions.”

It noted Laundrie has been named “a person of interest.”

Laundrie and Petito are both originally from Long Island; Laundrie from Blue Point, Petito from Suffolk County.

He moved to North Port with his parents in 2016; she moved to North Port in 2019, receiving her Florida drivers license and working at Publix along Toledo Blade in North Port. Laundrie reportedly worked there as well. She told authorities she worked as a nutritionist while he worked for a juice service company with his family — based out of their Wabasso Avenue home.

Petito, 22, had left July 2 with Laundrie, on a trip west. The couple drove from New York through the Midwest and into the Rockies, documenting the travel on Instagram and YouTube.

Their trip incorporated Monument Rocks Natural Landmark in Kansas, Colorado Springs and Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah.

On Aug. 12, the couple was pulled over in Moab, Utah after 911 calls said Laundrie was slapping Petito. In a widely viewed body camera video from police officers, Petito apologizes and says she had slapped at Laundrie. Officers told the couple they needed to spend the night apart. Petito slept in her van while Laundrie rented a motel room.

“(T)he 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,” according to the report from Officer Eric Pratt.

No charges were filed.

The couple say they were arguing in the van, and Petito scratched Laundrie’s arm when she realized the police were pulling them over. She told an officer she had OCD, according to police body cam footage.

They both said they were together in the van “the last four or five months” and there was some tension. Petito was “confused and emotional,” according to one of the officers.

“I instructed both Gabrielle and Brian to take advantage of this time apart to relax their emotions and get control of their anxiety,” an officer reported.

The last time her family heard from Petito, they believe was Aug. 25 in a text message. Petito’s family said they don’t believe an Aug. 30 text from her phone was authentic, since it used words for Petito’s grandfather that she wouldn’t, calling him “Stan” in the text.

Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, said they don’t believe the last text message they received from Gabby was actually from her. In it, it states that the couple is in Yosemite and that text messages would be tough because of the area.

It was received on Aug. 30.

“You do the math,” Nichole Schmidt said Friday. “We know that she didn’t send it because he was home Sept. 1. They never went to Yosemite; they never had plans to go to Yosemite — so it’s obvious.”

Laundrie returned to North Port on Sept. 1 in Petito’s van.

Petito’s family started calling and texting Laundrie’s family about a week later, believing the couple were missing. Their calls and texts were reported ignored.

Schmidt said she sent a message to Brian’s mother on Sept. 9.

“I texted her: ‘I’m worried about the kids — I haven’t heard from them,’ and I got nothing,” Nichole Schmidt said on Hannity. “I called, left a message, got nothing.”

The Laundrie family reached out to authorities Friday to let them know Brian was missing and had been since Tuesday. That has led to the ongoing search for him in rural expanses of Sarasota County.

The FBI Denver thanked those who have assisted so far, saying it appreciated those who have assisted with the search and other efforts.

Anyone with information about the case involving Gabby Petito or the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie should contact the FBI tip line at 800-225-5324.

“We extend sincere condolences to Gabby’s family, friends, and all the people whose lives she touched,” the news release from the FBI Denver office said.

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