A coroner in Wyoming has confirmed that a body found on Sunday is that of Gabby Petito, and that her death was a homicide.
The 22-year-old from New York was last seen alive on August 24, checking out of a hotel in Utah during her road trip across the U.S. with boyfriend Brian Laundrie, 23.
Laundrie returned to his family home in Florida without her on September 1, and on September 14 police were alerted to his disappearance. He has not been seen since, and remains a ‘person of interest’ in the case.
The search for Laundrie in the swampy Carlton Reserve has ended for the night, police in Florida said on Tuesday evening – adding that they will resume on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the FBI in Denver tweeted: ‘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.’
Laundrie’s family said on Tuesday evening, through their lawyer: ‘May Gabby Rest In Peace.’
The Petito family said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that they will speak publicly after her body is returned home.
Gabby Petito, 22, is pictured with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, 23, in a YouTube video made to document their ‘van life’ road trip. A body believed to be Petito’s was found on Sunday and on Tuesday the coroner confirmed it was her. Laundrie has disappeared
Laundrie and Petito are seen in a photo dated July 29. The pair met at high school on Long Island, New York, and begun dating several years ago
Petito is pictured in a bath at Mystic Hot Springs, in Monroe, Utah, in a picture posted on July 26
Police were alerted on September 11 by Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt.
Schmidt said that she last spoke to her daughter on August 25. She then received two text messages from her phone, but the wording sounded odd and she is unsure if Petito sent them.
The couple had been in contact with police shortly before she vanished.
On August 12, a passerby in Moab, Utah, called police after seeing a man and a woman in a blazing row, physically fighting each other.
A witness, known only as Christopher, wrote in his statement – obtained by Fox News – that ‘they were talking aggressively [at] each other [and] something definitely seemed off.’
He added: ‘At one point, they were sort of fighting over a phone – I think the male took the female’s phone. It appeared that he didn’t want her in the white van.
‘I heard her say, ‘Why do you have to be so mean?’
He said he saw Petito allegedly ‘punching him in the arm’ and trying to get inside the vehicle – which was registered in her name. She had been working as a pharmacy technician to save money for the four-month trip.
‘From my point of view, something definitely didn’t seem right,’ Christopher wrote.
‘It was as if the guy was trying to leave her, and maybe take her phone? Not sure but wanted to help out.’
Petito and Laundrie were both interviewed by police, and Petito said that Laundrie sometimes hit her.
Melissa Hulls, the visitor and resource protection supervisor at Arches National Park, told Petito that her relationship with Laundrie ‘seemed toxic’.
Hulls told Deseret News: ‘I was probably more candid with her than I should’ve been.
‘I was imploring with her to reevaluate the relationship, asking her if she was happy in the relationship with him, and basically saying this was an opportunity for her to find another path, to make a change in her life.
‘She had a lot of anxiety about being away from him, I honestly thought if anything was going to change it would be after they got home to Florida.’
In the end, Petito stayed with Laundrie.
‘This wasn’t a good day for anybody. We thought we were making the right decision when we left them.’
A huge manhunt was launched on September 11 to find the missing woman, and police said that they eventually received more than 1,000 tips.
As of Tuesday, the hashtag #GabbyPetito has received more than 650 million views on the social media platform TikTok, according to the Associated Press.
Petito and Laundrie had cultivated a following on social media as the traversed the West in their van, and fellow social media users jumped into the hunt for clues.
The van was spotted in footage made by YouTubers, a TikTok user said that she had given an ‘antsy’ Laundrie a lift when he was hitchhiking on August 29, and an Idaho woman who owns a shop in the town of Victor said that she had seen the pair around that time.
A tearful Petito is seen in the back of the police car. Laundrie admits he ‘pushed her’ during the altercation and cops determine Petito was ‘the primary aggressor’
Laundrie is seen with scratches on his face which he tells an officer were caused when Petito ‘was trying to get the keys from me’ and ‘hit me with her phone’
Laundrie and Petito set off on their dream road trip from New York on July 2
The pair had been traveling on a cross-country trip together since July 2, when they left New York. Petito was reported missing on September 11
Petito’s body was located on Sunday at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area.
The camp site is on the edge of the Grand Teton national park, and has views of the stunning mountain range.
Campers are allowed to stay on the undeveloped site, in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Laundrie’s whereabouts are now the subject of intense interest.
Petito’s family issued a withering statement through their lawyer, Richard Stafford, demanding Laundrie tell police what he knows.
‘All of Gabby’s family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing,’ they said on Friday.
In a letter, Petito’s family implored Laundrie’s parents on Thursday to tell them ‘where Brian left Gabby.’
Stafford said on Thursday the family was ‘devastated.’
Petito is the eldest of six children.
‘They’re at the point that desperation has turned to anger,’ Stafford said during a news conference.
‘They know that the Laundries know where their daughter is, and they will not tell them. That’s infuriating.’
His car has been recovered, abandoned, from the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County, Florida. The Mustang had a note on it asking for the car to be removed.
Police on Monday said they had ‘exhausted all avenues in searching of the grounds there,’ but are still looking for Laundrie.
Carlton Reserve is described by locals as swampy, alligator-filled, and full of snakes and mosquitoes.
Yet despite their exhaustive search, they continued to scour the area, and on Tuesday evening tweeted: ‘Search of the Carlton & nearby lands concluded for the evening. Nothing of note. The current plan is to return Wednesday with a similar operation.’
On Tuesday they were investigating a possible sighting of him, after someone baring a resemblance was spotted in a wooded area 500 miles from his Florida home.
The photo image provided to police by Bass shows a man with a backpack as he is walking through the woods. The man appears to have the same physical features as Laundrie, including a slim build and a bald head
‘I’m not saying this is the guy but whoever was on my trail camera this morning in Baker, Fl strongly fits the description of Brian Laundrie, authorities have been contacted but people in the North West Florida area be on the look out,’ Bass wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday
The alleged sighting took place some 500 miles from Laundrie’s North Port, Florida home. North Port Police on Tuesday resumed a search for Laundrie at the Carlton Reserve, a swampy region where he is last believed to have visited before his disappearance last week
Sam Bass told police that he spotted a man while he set up his deer camera in the wilderness in Baker, Florida in Okaloosa County early on Monday morning.
But the local sheriff’s office said that it followed up on the report and ‘no one – and nothing – of note was located.’
‘The OCSO did its due diligence in response to this report and is wrapping up an extensive search that took place in this area to include nearby farmlands,’ the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.
‘No one – and nothing – of note was located. The individual referenced in the post below has no known ties to our area.’
The photo image provided to police by Bass shows a man with a backpack as he is walking through the woods in the Florida Panhandle.
The man appears to have the same physical features as Laundrie, including a slim build and a bald head.
More than 50 searchers from at least eight law enforcement agencies led by the FBI are using huge swamp-busting amphibious vehicles, ATVs, bloodhounds, other K9s and drones as they ramp up efforts to track down the 23-year-old.
Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, announced that at the request of local law enforcement, he had ‘directed all state agencies under my purview to continue to assist federal & local enforcement as they continue to search – we need justice for Gabby’.
Police in North Port, Florida – who are facing criticism for allowing Laundrie to disappear – issued a statement last week defending themselves.
‘We understand the community’s frustration. We are frustrated too,’ the department said in a tweet.
‘For six days, the North Port police department and the FBI have been pleading with the family to contact investigators regarding Brian’s fiancée Gabby Petito.
‘Friday is the first time they have spoken with investigators in detail.
‘It is important to note that while Brian is a person of interest in Gabby’s disappearance, he is not wanted for a crime. We are not currently working a crime investigation. We are now working a multiple missing persons investigation.’
Laundrie’s father Christopher Laundrie broke cover for the first time Tuesday – but refused to answer questions about his missing son.
Brian Laundrie’s father Christopher Laundrie made a rare foray into town on Tuesday, one day after the FBI raided the North Port, Florida home he shares with his wife Roberta
Laundrie, who was dressed in khaki shorts and a black top, strode out to his red Dodge Ram pick-up truck and drove past the police presence outside his home before returning 20 minutes later with half a gallon of milk
Dressed in khaki shorts and a black top, Laundrie strode out to his red Dodge Ram pick-up truck and drove past the continued police presence outside his home.
He returned 20 minutes later with half a gallon of milk and quickly disappeared back into the house.
The Laundrie residence has become somewhat of a media circus.
Christopher and Roberta Laundrie told police on September 17 that their son had told them three days earlier he was going for a hike, and never returned.
In the early days of the investigation, they refused to speak to investigators and their son hired a lawyer.
The attorney, Steven Bertolino, was planning to hold a press conference from Long Island, New York, at 1 pm. on Tuesday.
He canceled the press conference on Monday night after discussions with the FBI.
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