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Cause and Manner of Brian Laundrie’s Death Finally Revealed

Gabrielle Petito and Brian Laundrie appear in an image taken from their YouTube channel Nomadic Statik.

Gabrielle Petito and Brian Laundrie appear in an image taken from their YouTube channel Nomadic Statik.

An autopsy on Brian Laundrie has revealed that the cause of the long-wanted man’s death was a gunshot wound to the head and that the manner of death was suicide. That’s according to Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino.

Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide,” Bertolino told Law&Crime on Tuesday. “Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families.”

Richard Stafford, an attorney for Gabby Petito’s family, said his clients were “aware” of the announcement but were unwilling to add additional information:

The Schmidt and Petito family has been aware of the circumstances surrounding the suicide of the sole suspect in Gabby’s murder. Gabby’s family will not be making a statement at this time due to the request of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office. The family was asked to not make any comments and let the FBI continue their investigation. The family was also asked to wait for the United States Attorney’s Office to make a determination on whether any additional individuals will be charged. When that determination is made, we will have a statement.

The office of the District 12 Medical Examiner in Florida said Thursday that it had “completed [its] investigation into the death of Brian C. Laundrie.” The process included “scene response by medical examiner personnel,” “complete examination of the recovered skeletal remains,” “consultation with a forensic odontologist including dental comparison for identification,” “consultation with a forensic anthropologist including skeletal reconstruction,” and “confirmation of the identity of the remains by both dental comparison and DNA analysis.”

A press release from the medical examiner’s office also said that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and that the manner of death was suicide.

The full report will not be made public “until the law enforcement investigation is complete,” the medical examiner’s office said.  The agency cited Florida law and a request by the FBI, the lead agency on the case, as the reason why the report is not fully public.

Neither Bertolino nor the FBI responded to requests for information about the weapon Laundrie is said to have used to end his life, the New York Post said.

Laundrie disappeared in mid-September after returning home alone in a white van he and his fiancée Gabby Petito had been using for a cross-country trip. The couple documented the journey on social media. On Aug. 12, the couple was captured on body camera video by authorities in Moab, Utah, after a suspected domestic dispute.

Laundrie’s Ford Mustang convertible turned up abandoned on Sept. 14 near the entrance to Florida’s Myakkahatchee Environmental Park, which is adjacent to the sprawling T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve.

Bertolino told the Law&Crime Network in October that Brian Laundrie flew from Salt Lake City to Tampa to join his family on Aug. 17. The attorney said Brian flew back to Salt Lake City on Aug. 23 to rejoin Petito.

A search revealed Petito’s remains on Sept. 19 in Wyoming’s Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area. A Teton County coroner ruled that Petito died by strangulation.

Human remains were found Oct. 20 in Florida near where Laundrie’s car was discovered in September. The remains were later confirmed to be Laundrie’s. An initial autopsy was inconclusive; a forensic anthropologist then examined the remains.

A Wyoming grand jury indicted Laundrie for the alleged unauthorized use of an access device — e.g., a debit card — on Sept. 23. An amended warrant was filed shortly thereafter to correct a clerical error in the original.  The debit card, presumably Petito’s, was said to have been used to purchase more than $1,000 in goods and services in Wyoming and elsewhere. Laundrie was never arrested, and the case never evolved beyond the accusation.

This report has been updated.

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now deputy editor-in-chief for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only. You should not rely on it for legal advice. Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.