On Tuesday, a medical examiner announced that the official cause of death in the homicide of YouTuber Gabby Petito was determined to be strangulation—more specifically, “manual strangulation/throttling.” This development comes over three weeks after the 22-year-old’s body was discovered in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest following a national surge of interest in the case of her disappearance driven by Instagram.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue isn’t legally allowed to share many details of the autopsy on Petito’s body, but he elaborated a bit on the official cause of death during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday evening. “We believe this was strangling by a human being,” Blue said. Additionally, Blue revealed that Petito’s estimated time of death was three to four weeks before her body was found on September 19. This timeline lines up with what Petito’s parents told law enforcement—that the last time they talked to their daughter was in late August, around the same time when she suddenly stopped sharing Instagram posts of her “van life” cross-country journey with fiancée Brian Laundrie.
Many Instagram commenters had decided Petito’s fiancée, the 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, was responsible for her disappearance even before her remains were found. Laundrie, who was declared a “person of interest” after Petito’s parents reported her missing on September 11, has behaved extremely suspiciously. Not only did he return to his parents’ home in early September without his fiancée, but he also refused to cooperate with the police investigation into her disappearance and has actually been missing for several weeks.
In late September, the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for Laundrie after a grand jury indicted him for using “unauthorized devices” after Petito’s death—specifically, Laundrie allegedly used a debit card for accounts that did not belong to him to rack up charges of over $1,000 between August 30 and September 1. Laundrie’s current whereabouts are still unknown, but at one point authorities were searching for him in the Carlton Reserve, a 25,000-acre nature reserve near his parents’ home in Florida.