Gabby Petito autopsy being ruled homicide so quickly hints at clues 'like broken neck or buried body,' says lawyer

Gabby Petito autopsy being ruled homicide so quickly hints at clues 'like broken neck or buried body,' says lawyer

October 12, 2021

THE speed at which Gabby Petito's death was ruled a homicide could indicate that she died from a broken neck, an expert says.

A criminal defense attorney offered her theory hours before authorities were set to announce Gabby's official cause of death on Tuesday, as the manhunt for the slain hiker's fiance Brian Laundrie drags on.

The expert verified by Reddit shared her thoughts in a thread about Gabby, whose body was found in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park on September 19.

Under the username Ms_Tryl, she highlighted "the fact that they ruled it a homicide so quickly after the body had been decomposing and subject to contaminating issues (like animals)."

"It's likely there was something about the way the body was that made it more obvious someone else killed her (ie: she had a broken neck, and was buried)," she wrote.

Many theories about Gabby's manner of death have emerged in the weeks since her body was discovered.

On September 21, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed that Gabby died as a result of a homicide but the cause was still pending final autopsy results.

Coroners are expected to put speculation to rest by revealing the official cause of death at a press conference scheduled for 2.30pm EST on Tuesday.


Ahead of the announcement, a forensic expert speculated that Gabby's autopsy likely showed "glaring" injuries in an exclusive interview with The Sun.

Joseph Scott Morgan, an Associate Professor of Applied Forensics with Jacksonville State University, said it was “fascinating” the Teton County Coroner announced the manner of death as a homicide just two days after Gabby’s body was found.

Read our Gabby Petito live blog for the very latest news and updates…

He said that a coroner generally finds it easier to find the cause of death such as strangulation, gunshot, or medical emergency. 

They then work from this to determine if the cause of death falls under homicide, suicide, natural death, accidental or undetermined.   

“That's counterintuitive actually for what we do in my field,” Morgan, host of the podcast Body Bags, explained of the manner of death being released so soon.  

“It's interesting that they came out with the manner first, that's the fascinating thing. 

“Based on my career experience, I can say that they saw something glaring. They saw something glaring.”


Meanwhile, Salt Lake City-based private investigator Jason Jensen said he believes Gabby may have died by asphyxiation.

Jensen referred to Gabby’s body language on bodycam video recorded when she was quizzed by cops in Moab, Utah, on August 12 following a fight with Laundrie.

In an interview with Fox News, Jensen claimed: “I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s manual strangulation.

“Any victim that’s been choked before – their natural reaction is to lower their chin to their clavicle to prevent that hand from going around their throat.”


Authorities have said Gabby was last seen on August 27 when witness saidthey saw her engage in an explosive argument with Laundrie at a restaurant in Jackson Hole.

The last time she spoke to her family was on August 25, when she told her parents she and Brian had reached Grand Teton National Park.

Laundrie returned home to Florida in Gabby's van without her on September 1.

He was reported missing on September 17 by his parents Chris and Roberta Laundrie, who claimed he set out for a camping trip four days earlier.

Laundrie is considered a person of interest in Gabby's death but has not been officially named as a suspect.

Gabby Petito timeline

Gabby Petito, 22, was last seen on August 24, leaving a hotel in Utah. Here is a timeline of Gabby Petito’s disappearance:

  • June 2021 – Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie set off on a cross-country trip across the US.
  • July 4 – Gabby posts photos of herself barefoot in Gove County, Kansas.
  • July 8 – Gabby posts photos of herself at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
  • July 18 – Gabby and Brian post photos of themselves at Utah's Zion National Park.
  • August 12 – Body camera footage was released in September showing an encounter Brian and Gabby had with police in Utah. Police confirmed that no significant injuries were reported.
  • August 19 – Gabby and Brian post a video on their YouTube channel chronicling their trip.
  • August 24 – Gabby is spotted leaving a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • August 25 – Gabby Facetimes her mom, Nichole Schmidt, for the final time. In a later police report, Schmidt said her conversations with her daughter revealed "more and more tension" between her and Brian.
  • August 25 – Gabby also posts her last Instagram. No location is given.
  • August 27 – Gabby is seen for what's believed to be the final time. Witnesses claim they saw Brian in an explosive argument with staff at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, leaving Gabby in tears.
  • August 27 – Four hours later, travel bloggers driving through Grand Teton National Park drive past the couple's van "abandoned" on a dirt road.
  • September 1 – Brian returns home to Florida without Gabby.
  • September 11 – Gabby's parents report her missing to Suffolk County police.
  • September 14 – Brian's family issues a statement saying he has retained an attorney and will not be cooperating with investigators.
  • September 14 – Brian is allegedly last seen by his family. He reportedly told them he was going hiking in Cartlon Reserve but failed to return.
  • September 15 – Florida's North Port police announce Brian is a person of interest in the case. He is not charged with any crime.
  • September 16 – Utah police release body camera footage of the police encounter with Brian and Gabby.
  • September 17 – Brian's parents say they have not seen their son in a couple of days and report him missing.
  • September 18 – Police announce they were searching Carlton Reserve in Florida for Brian. Police announce they have not found anything.
  • September 19 – Authorities in Wyoming say they found a body in Grand Teton National Park. The FBI announces the body was believed to be Gabby's but a full forensic identification needs to be completed first to confirm.
  • September 20 – Police execute a search warrant on Laundrie's home, seizing his silver Mustang and a hard drive that may contain "evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed."
  • September 21 – Officials announce they will be conducting an autopsy on the remains found in Wyoming to confirm whether or not they belong to Gabby. Police also resumed their search for Laundrie, this time on the Venice side of Carlton Reserve.
  • September 21 – The FBI announced the body found in Wyoming was identified as Gabby's. The cause of death was not yet revealed.
  • September 21 – The Teton County Coroner's office said Gabby's official cause of death was still pending but the initial manner of death is homicide.
  • September 22 – Police continue to scour Carlton Reserve for a trace of Laundrie but yield no leads. A specialist dive team is called in to assist with the hunt.
  • September 23 – Officials announced a federal arrest warrant for Brian was issued.
  • September 26 – Gabby's funeral was held on Long Island, New York.


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