Gabby Petito case: Coroner clarifies cause of death

National

NORTH PORT, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — A day after announcing Gabby Petito died by “manual strangulation/throttling,” the coroner who performed her autopsy explained what that means.

“Throttling generally means that it was done with human hands as opposed to an instrument,” Teton County, Wyoming Coroner Brent Blue told NewsNationNow.com. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be, but manual strangulation basically means it was not done with equipment.”

Petito died some time after Aug. 25 while she and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, were on a cross-country road trip.

Brian Laundrie’s father, Christopher Laundrie, emerged from his home on Wednesday to mow his lawn, but did not respond to questions asked by NewsNation reporter Brian Entin.

The Laundries’ attorney, Steve Bertolino, issued a statement on Wednesday via text, calling Petito’s death a tragedy, but doubled down on Brian Laundrie being only a person of interest in her death.

“While Brian Laundrie is currently charged with the unauthorized use of a debit card belonging to Gabby, Brian is only considered a person of interest in relation to Gabby Petito’s demise,” Bertolino wrote. “At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him.”

Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, rejected his comment.

“His words are garbage. Keep talking,” she wrote in a text to NewsNation affiliate WFLA reporter J.B. Biunno.

Blue declined to speculate whether he believed Brian Laundrie, was involved. “We are only tasked with cause and manner of death,” he said in a virtual news conference on Tuesday. “Who committed the homicide is up to law enforcement.”

He said only the cause of death, strangulation, and manner of death, homicide, would be released, per Wyoming law. Blue first ruled the death a homicide on Sept. 21.

Petito, 22, was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after she did not respond to calls and texts for several days. Petito’s body was found Sept. 19 just outside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WFLA contributed to this report.

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