The Wyoming county coroner who ruled Gabby Petito's death a homicide said Tuesday the 22-year-old woman from Long Island was strangled and likely died three to four weeks before her body was found in mid-September.
Dr. Brent Blue of the Teton County coroner's office said DNA was recovered from Petito's body but he didn't say whether it belonged to her or someone else. He described her remains as having been "out in the wilderness" for a number of weeks but referred questions on whether the body was buried to the FBI, which had no immediate comment on the latest developments in the case Tuesday afternoon.
The strangulation determination was made last week, on Oct. 5, Blue said, but said the announcement was held for a week because they were "waiting for a final review by the FBI and U.S. Attorney as well as notification of the family."
Blue declined to release additional details on the autopsy, citing state protocol, but the findings he did share are of critical importance to investigators and could alter the approach of a potential criminal case as the FBI continues to hunt her former fiancé Brian Laundrie, who has been missing for more than four weeks.
Petito's body was found on Sept. 19 near Grand Teton National Park, which she and Laundrie visited. The timeframe around which Blue believes she died puts her death near Aug. 27, which is about the date officials say her cellphone was turned off. The last time her mother had spoken with her was two days prior to that.