Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue had previously ruled Pettito’s death a homicide, and although the cause was revealed on Tuesday, he declined to provide details about Pettito’s autopsy or the potential suspect, saying that he was limited in the information that could be released legally.
Who killed Petito, when he was killed and what happened until his death remains a mystery.
Authorities are still searching for her fiancé, Brian Laundry, who returned to Florida without her after her trip to the western US.
Blue told a news conference Tuesday that the autopsy of Petito’s remains included a CT scan of the whole body, an examination by a forensic pathologist and forensic anthropologist, and a toxicology analysis.
A legal document Blue filed with the Teton County Clerk of District Court on October 5 specified that the cause of death was “by hand strangulation/throttle”.
“The exact date of death will not be on the death certificate,” the coroner said.
Blue said the time of her death and the weather conditions made it difficult to pinpoint the exact date of her death.
Blue said the autopsy revealed more information, but would be withheld because of the ongoing investigation.
Blue said work on the case “was and continues to be quite a media circus.” In addition to the disappearance and death, the case has sparked conversations around domestic violence, due to the release of body camera footage of a conversation between Petito, Laundry and the police in one of the couple’s fights.
“Unfortunately, this is only one of many deaths across the country of people involved in domestic violence,” Blue said. “And it’s unfortunate that these other deaths didn’t get as much coverage as this one did.”
Mysterious Text Messages and a Police Call
Petito called his mother regularly, and those conversations revealed that there was “greater tension” in Petito’s relationship, according to a police affidavit with a search warrant for an external hard drive found in the couple’s van.
On August 27, a “strange text” from Petito worried his mother that something was wrong, according to a search warrant.
According to the affidavit, “Can you help Stan, I keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.” According to the affidavit, Stan was a reference to Petito’s grandfather, to whom his mother said Petito never made such a reference.
The caller said, “We passed by and the gentleman was slapping the girl.” “Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, jumped into the car and off they went.”
Granthshala obtained a dispatch audio recording from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office last month that sheds more light on what Moab police were told of “some sort of dispute.”
And on August 27, a witness described an “uproar” as they were leaving Mary Piglet’s Tex-Mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming.
Witness Nina Angelou said Petito was in tears and the laundry was seen angrily going in and out of the restaurant several times, the hostess showing anger towards the staff around the stand.
Angelou told Granthshala she saw no violence or physical altercation between Petito and the laundry.
Investigators said Laundry’s parents told him on September 17 that he had left the house a few days earlier and was on his way to the nearby Carlton Reserve – in search of 25,000 acres of the nature reserve. Initially, his parents said he left on September 14, but last week, Laundry family attorney Steven Bertolino said, “We now believe that the day Brian took the preserve was Monday, September 13. “
In a statement Tuesday, Steve Bertolino, attorney for Laundry’s family, said Laundry had used a debit card that belonged to Petito, but noted that he was not a suspect in her death.
Granthshala’s Rebekah Rees, Rob Frehse, Jennifer Henderson, Christina Maxouris, Kari Pritcher, Leyla Santiago, Jane Selva, Amir Vera and Steve Almasi contributed to this report.
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