The young traveler Gabby Petito, whose disappearance caused great emotion in the United States, died of strangulation and her death is a homicide, announced Tuesday the forensic scientist who supervised her autopsy.
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“The cause of death is strangulation and it is homicide,” said Dr.r Brent Blue, from Teton County in Northwestern Wyoming, where the 22-year-old’s body was found on September 19.
She was killed three to four weeks before her body was found near Grand Teton National Park, he added without giving further details of the autopsy.
Her ex-boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, is actively wanted by authorities but remains untraceable.
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Described as “person of interest in the investigation”, he was charged with fraudulent use of a bank card.
In a statement to the American media, the lawyer for the Laundrie family, Steven Bertolino, assured that the death of the young woman “at such a young age” was a “tragedy”.
However, he recalled that, for the time being, Brian Laundrie was only wanted for having used his girlfriend’s bank card.
The couple had left New York in July for a trip in a converted van that was supposed to last four months and whose stages, in the awe-inspiring settings of the national parks of the American West, were regularly shared on Instagram and YouTube, through photos and videos.
But on September 1, Brian returned alone with the van to North Port, Florida, where the couple were staying with the Laundrie family.
Gabrielle Petito’s family reported her disappearance on September 11, saying they have not heard from her since the end of August.
Internet users then began to mobilize on social networks to try to find the young girl, and the media took hold of the story.
A video made public by the police in Moab, a small town in Utah, has accentuated the confusion around the role played by her fiancé.
Gabrielle Petito appears there in tears, in a car, the police having intervened on August 12 for a marital dispute.
“She gets annoyed sometimes,” Brian Laundrie tells officers, explaining that they had had a dispute and that she hit him with his phone.
Gabby Petito’s last direct contact with her family was on August 21, her father, Joseph, said. Her mother had also claimed to have received a last text on August 30, without being sure that it had been written by her daughter.
After the report of her disappearance, the North Port police had questioned Brian and indicated that he had not provided them with any information on the young woman, before disappearing.
The manhunt launched by the police, which takes place in a marshy reserve in Florida, and the intervention of a star bounty hunter of the reality show, fascinate American and foreign Internet users, who follow and comment on all the stages of the investigation.
Gabby Petito’s funeral was celebrated on September 26 near New York City, although her remains were still in Wyoming.
The tragic story of this young blonde American is sadly commonplace in a country where hundreds of thousands of people go missing every year. But the media coverage of the case sparked controversy over the disproportionate attention given to the disappearances of white women compared to those from minorities.