Gabby Petito, the 22-year-old aspiring social media influencer who went missing while documenting her #VanLife cross-country road trip with her fiancé on Instagram and YouTube, was strangled, a coroner announced Tuesday.
Teton County Coroner Brent Blue, who previously ruled Petito's death a homicide, revealed that the cause of her death was strangulation, but he did not provide additional details about the autopsy result.
Speaking at a press conference, Blue said that Petito's body remained outside in the wilderness for at least three to four weeks before her remains were found at a Wyoming campground on Sept. 19. She had been reported missing by her family on Sept. 11. Blue added that DNA samples were taken from Petito's body.
Petito's fiancé, Brian Laundrie, returned alone to his home in Florida on Sept. 1 in the van he shared with her. He has now been missing since Sept. 17, prompting authorities to conduct a weekslong search for him in the Carlton Reserve in Florida.
He was named a "person of interest" in her disappearance but has since been charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card in the days after her death.
Laundrie's attorney, Steve Bertolino, responded to the autopsy result in a statement saying that his client is only considered a "person of interest" in relation to Petito's death.
"Gabby Petito's death at such a young age is a tragedy," Bertolino said. "At this time, Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him."
Florida's North Port police officer Josh Taylor told NewsNationNow last week that he wouldn't be surprised if Laundrie was dead or alive at this point in their ongoing search.
The Laundrie family attorney recently revealed that his parents believed they last saw him on Sept. 13, a day earlier than they'd previously told investigators. "I don’t know necessarily what to believe anymore," Taylor told NewsNationNow in response.
“It’s certainly possible that they’re expressing what they know. But we’ll see," Taylor told the news station. He added that the Laundrie family had joined authorities in the search for their son.
"I think it’s a sign of them trying to work with investigators," he said.
Blue, the Teton County coroner, commented on the "media circus" around Petito's death, saying it was "unfortunate" that deaths in similar cases did not get as much coverage.
Petito's disappearance and death attracted national attention, highlighting the disparities between cases involving missing white women and those of people of color. Many true crime fans on social media began to channel the attention they got for covering Petito's case to talk about other cases.
Petito's family recently announced a foundation in her name that they said will help families of other missing people.