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Expert reveals why investigation into Gabby Petito’s death might get tricky

Gabby Petito died by homicide. But there are challenges ahead for what’s next

Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito talks to a police officer near the entrance to Arches National Park.
This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021.
Moab Police Department via Associated Press

The case of the missing woman Gabby Petito took a dark turn on Tuesday when the FBI confirmed her body had been found in Wyoming.

Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed that the remains found outside a Wyoming national park on Sunday were from Petito.

  • “Coroner Blue’s initial determination for the manner of death is homicide. The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results,” the FBI said in a tweet.

Petito, 22, had gone missing after a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. Petito had been reported missing on Sept. 11. A search began in the Grand Teton National Park since that was her last known location.

Blue, the coroner, said Petito died from homicide. The official cause of death was not determined yet.

But Priya Banerjee, a forensic pathologist, told Fox News on Wednesday that officials might not release the cause of death because it could hurt the investigation.

  • “The challenge was obviously for my colleagues to determine the cause of death, performed the autopsy, and my professional feeling is that they’re not going to release the cause of death yet with an ongoing investigation,” said Banerjee.

Letting the public know that Petito died by homicide “tells us that she didn’t die of a natural death,” Banerjee told Fox News. “This was due to someone’s actions taking her life.”

  • Banerjee said that it will be hard to tie a perpetrator to the crime because of the conditions where Petito’s body was found.
  • “That is a challenge, tying the perpetrator to the crime, especially, I want to say, in the setting of decomposition, this was out in the wild, high-temperature fluctuation,” she said.

And, she told Fox News, Brian Laundrie’s DNA will likely be found with Petito since the couple spent so much time together on a cross-country road trip.

  • “So that will be a challenge, I think, to tie it all together,” she said.