Coroner: She strangled Gabi Pettito 3-4 weeks before the body was found

A Wyoming coroner announced Tuesday that cross-country traveler Gabi Pettito was strangled to death.

CHENEY, Wyo (AFP) – Cross-country traveler Gabe Pettito has been strangled, a Wyoming investigator announced Tuesday.

Pettito, 22, died three to four weeks before her body was found on September 19 near an undeveloped campground along the border of Grand Teton National Park in remote northern Wyoming, Teton County coroner Dr. Brent Blue said at a news conference.

It was not clear if the decision could lead to additional charges being brought against Pettito’s friend and travel partner, Brian Laundry, who is considered a person concerned with her disappearance and remains unaccounted for.

Blow declined to say more about the autopsy or the case in general, saying it was barred under Wyoming law that limits what investigators can release.

Pettito was on a cross-country trip with Laundry, visiting Colorado, Utah, and other states. She was reported missing on 9/11 by her parents after she did not return calls and texts for several days while the couple were visiting national parks in the West.

Bleu previously classified Pettito’s death as a homicide – meaning that her death was caused by someone else – but has not revealed how she was killed pending further autopsy results.

Blue said that “detailed analysis” led to his conclusion that Pettito had been strangled.

“Nothing is clear in such a case,” he said.

Bleu said a bit more about Pettito’s physical condition – including whether she was directly strangled by someone’s hands, a rope or other object – but she noted when asked that she wasn’t pregnant.

Investigators believe Pettito and Londry traveled to the area during the three to four weeks her body was believed to have been in the wild.

Pettito’s case has led to renewed calls for people to pay more attention to cases involving missing Aboriginal women and other people of color, with some commentators describing the extensive coverage of her disappearance as “Missing White Woman Syndrome.”

The search for Laundry is so frenzy that TV personalities like Duane Chapman — better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter — and longtime “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh are working to track him down.

Petito and Laundrie posted online about their ride in a white Ford Transit truck that has been converted into a buggy. They got into a physical altercation on August 12 in Moab, Utah, which led to a police halt, which ended with the police deciding to separate the arguing couple overnight. No charges were brought and no serious injuries were reported.

Investigators searched for Laundry in Florida and also searched his parents’ home in Northport, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Sarasota.

Federal officials in Wyoming last month charged Laundrie with unauthorized debit card use, alleging that he used someone’s Capital One Bank card and PIN to make unauthorized withdrawals or fees worth more than $1,000 during the period Petito disappeared. They did not say to whom the card belongs.

Asked about the coroner’s decision, Laundry’s family attorney, Stephen Bertolino, indicated in a statement that his client is only facing fraud in the case.

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

In Florida, FBI-led search teams were searching a vast nature reserve for any sign of Laundry. Weeks of searching in the swampy Carlton Reserve south of Sarasota—where Laundry’s parents say he went after returning home from the West—have found nothing.

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This story has been updated to correct that Betito’s first name is Gabi, not Gabi.

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