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Coroner Confirms Gabby Petito Was Found Dead in Wyoming and Initially Rules Her Death a Homicide, FBI Says

Gabrielle Petito

Gabrielle Petito

The search for Gabby Petito officially ended in tragedy on Tuesday afternoon as autopsy results confirmed that the body authorities discovered in Wyoming on Sunday, in fact, belonged to the missing 22-year-old. The coroner initially ruled Petito’s death a homicide, the FBI announced.

“Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999. Coroner Blue’s initial determination for the manner of death is homicide. The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results,” FBI Denver’s Tuesday afternoon tweet said.

The coroner did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment. The Teton County Sheriff’s office referred comment to the FBI, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In mid-June, Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie ventured on a road trip to Utah that they broadcast to YouTube under the title “VAN LIFE: Beginning Our Van Life Journey.” Laundrie returned without her on Sept. 1, and Petito’s family reported her missing some 10 days later, setting the internet ablaze with amateur sleuthing across social media.

Police claim Laundrie has not cooperated with their investigation. He later cut off ties with Petito’s family, her parents said on Friday. Florida authorities since launched a search of the nearby Carlton Reserve, where authorities say the 23-year-old left a week ago for a hike.

On Facebook, police issued a lengthy statement about their search across “vast and unforgiving” terrain:

A weekend ground search and aerial search Monday of the 25-thousand-acre preserve has yet to yield any answers, but we must press on.

Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. It is currently waste [sic] deep in water in many areas. This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails.

Federal and local authorities continue to chase other leads. Most recently, authorities raided the Laundrie family home on Monday to execute a search warrant.

On Sept. 15, a North Port Police Department detective obtained a search warrant to inspect an external hard drive inside the 2012 Ford Transit van, where the couple first set out from New York out West this past summer.

An application supporting that warrant revealed an “odd text” the young woman supposedly sent her mother Nicole Schmidt.

According to court papers, the message read: “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.”

“Stan” was apparently supposed to refer to Petito’s grandfather, but her mother asserted that her daughter never called him by that name, police said.

“The mother was concerned that something was wrong with her daughter,” the detective wrote.

Authorities believe Petito was last at the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Police in Moab, Utah say previously they got a call about a possible domestic incident on Aug. 12.

“After evaluating the totality of the circumstances, I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental bealth crisis,” an officer found, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Moab authorities said that a witness reported that Petito struck Laundrie, who allegedly grabbed her face. Laundrie claimed on video that the fight started after relationship issues began to pile up, and he suggested they both take a walk in separate directions.

Laundrie has not been charged or accused of wrongdoing, but police call him a person of interest in their investigation.

Alberto Luperon and Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.

[Screenshot via Nomadic Statik]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."