JACKSON — Hundreds of thousands of people watched live and millions reacted as Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue announced in a video press conference Tuesday that Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, 22, died by strangulation.
A document the coroner’s office filed with the Teton County Clerk of District Court specified the homicide was “manual strangulation/throttling.”
Strangulation is among the most fatal and dominating forms of abuse, domestic violence experts say.
Petito’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, remains only a person of interest in the homicide at this time, though he is sought on fraud charges for using Petito’s debit card.
“One in four women will experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetimes,” states a fact sheet written by the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, “and of women at high risk, up to 68 percent will experience near-fatal strangulation by their partner. Loss of consciousness can occur within 5 to 10 minutes; death within minutes.”
Petito died between three to four weeks before being found, Blue said. He did not know the exact date of her death and said there would likely not be a specific date listed on her death certificate.
He wouldn’t discuss the condition of her remains, but he noted that they were outside for up to four weeks before search teams found her Sept. 19. Throughout the press conference, which was held via video conference and concurrently livestreamed by news organizations, reporters asked Blue if he could draw conclusions about whether Laundrie was involved in her strangulation.
“I can’t make any comment about any suspects because we’re not involved in that part of the investigation,” Blue said. “We are only involved in the investigation of the body of the deceased. So who committed the homicide is really to be determined by law enforcement.”
Blue said that Valley Mortuary is in possession of Petito’s remains and that the funeral home is in contact with her family to return them. He also dismissed the rumor that she was pregnant.
Blue noted the nature of the case, which has caught the attention of millions of people, and he lamented that most domestic violence victims didn’t receive nearly as much attention.
“Unfortunately, this is only one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence, and it’s unfortunate that those deaths don’t receive as much coverage,” Blue said.
Blue ruled the manner of death as homicide.