The Teton County coroner said Gabby Petito’s cause of death was strangulation while maintaining the manner of her death was a homicide. Coroner Brent Blue made the announcement in a press conference on Tuesday, in which he estimated the strangulation took place three to four weeks before her body was found.
The coroner said officials came to that consensus after a full-body CT scan as well as evaluations by pathologists, anthropologists, and toxicologists. Blue added officials were still working to determine what to do with Petito’s remains.
Blue offered shocking new details in the investigation into Petito’s cause of death during an appearance on CNN — hours after it was revealed she died by strangulation.
Paperwork offered more specifics, listing the death as “manual strangulation/throttling.”
“Throttling means that someone was strangled by human force,” Blue said on “Anderson Cooper 360.” “There was no mechanical force involved.”
“People can be strangled by other means,” he said. “We have seen people on snowmobiles who run into a wire — that would be strangling by a mechanical event. But this was, we believe this was strangling by a human being.”
Host Anderson Cooper asked how Blue knew it was a human responsible for killing Petito.
“Mainly because only humans have opposable thumbs,” Blue said. “There is no evidence that this was done by any animal as far as the cause of death.”
According to estimates in the official autopsy, Petito, 22, had been dead for three or four weeks by the time her body was found in Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sept. 19, ending a weeklong search that drew national headlines.
Although officials ruled her death a homicide, the cause of death wasn’t revealed until the afternoon of Tues, Oct. 12, when Blue briefed members of the media on the results of the autopsy. But he said that under Wyoming law, he wouldn’t release any further details.
Blue didn’t estimate the exact time of Petito’s death and didn’t disclose details such as the condition of her body when it was found — or even whether her remains were found buried.
And though he didn’t speculate about the potential involvement of Petito’s fugitive boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, Blue said during his afternoon news conference that Petito’s death was one of many of “people who are involved in domestic violence,” and it was unfortunate that others don’t get as much attention.
Cooper asked Blue about those comments during his CNN appearance, saying it suggested Petito’s death was a result of domestic violence.
“That’s an assumption,” Blue said. “That was strictly an assumption.”
Petito was last seen alive sometime in late August while on a cross-country trip with Laundrie. But the trip was aborted, and Laundrie returned home to his parent’s house in Florida without Petito early on Sept. 1.
He refused to cooperate with police when Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 and vanished shortly after.
Meanwhile, Dog the Bounty Hunter, who has inserted himself into the search for Laundrie, urged Petito’s fugitive boyfriend to turn himself in – saying that the Wyoming coroner’s finding that she was strangled to death makes him look guilty as sin.
“His best decision now would be to turn himself in,” Dog, whose real name is Duane Chapman, adding that the 23-year-old man’s parents “need to be doing more to signal Brian to stop running.”