‘His words are garbage’: Gabby Petito’s mother reacts to Laudrie lawyer after coroner reveals cause of death

Gabby Petito, the young woman who vanished on a road trip with her boyfriend and later turned up dead in Wyoming, was killed by strangulation, a local coroner said yesterday.

eton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue, whose office had already ruled Petito’s death a homicide, said she was killed about three to four weeks before her body was found on September 19.

Her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie (23) has been missing for nearly a month.

Petito (22) was last seen alive on August 26.

Her body was discovered on September 19 near the remote Spread Creek Dispersed Campground in Bridger-­Teton National Forest in western Wyoming.

The disappearance last month of the young woman during a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend captivated the world, first as an internet sensation and then as a tabloid mystery that grew more enigmatic by the day.

Petito and Mr Laundrie, who lived with Mr Laundrie’s parents in North Port on Florida’s west coast, embarked on their trip in early July from New York’s Long Island, where her parents live.

As they travelled through Kansas, Colorado, Utah and points west, Petito documented their “van life” on social media with videos and pictures that depicted a loving couple having an American adventure.

She posted her final photo to Instagram on August 25, the same day she last spoke to her mother by phone.

Mr Laundrie returned without her on September 1 to his family’s North Port home driving Petito’s white van. Ten days later, Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, reported her missing to police in New York.

With the search becoming more public after Florida police named Mr Laundrie a person of interest in the case, police in Moab, Utah, released bodycam footage on September 15 that suggested a darker side to the couple’s sunny social media veneer.

After a caller reported seeing Mr Laundrie striking Petito, Moab police pulled over their van on August 12 and questioned them for more than an hour. Both acknowledged having argued, and Petito tearfully said she had struck Ms Laundrie on the arm.

No charges were filed, but police ordered the two to stay in separate lodgings for the night.

Mr Laundrie, who had refused to talk to North Port police on the advice of his lawyer, has not been seen since September 14, when his parents later said he told them he was going for a hike in the nearby Carlton Reserve wilderness area.

Police and FBI agents, using divers, tracking dogs and helicopters, have turned up no sign of him in the swampy, alligator-infested wilderness area.

On September 23, a federal grand jury in Wyoming indicted Mr Laundrie on a charge of fraudulently using Petito’s bank debit card between August 30 and September 1 to spend $1,000 or more. He has not been charged in her death.

Gabby Petito’s mother has branded the latest comments made by the Laundrie family lawyer about her daughter’s death as “garbage”.

After a Wyoming coroner confirmed that Ms Petito had been strangled and her body left in the wilderness for up to four weeks, Mr Laundrie’s attorney Steve Bertolino released a statement saying that his client remained just “a person of interest” in her killing.

“His words are garbage. Keep talking,” said Nichole Schmidt in a text message.

The war of words came after her death was ruled to be strangulation by Teton County Coroner Brent Blue at a press conference on Tuesday.

He described the death as a “domestic violence” case, but would not be drawn on who was responsible, saying that was for law enforcement to determine.

“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,” said Mr Bertolino.

“At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the pending fraud charge against him.”

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