Can police prove Brian Laundrie killed Gabby Petito? Forensic challenge awaits officials
Determining the cause of death too would be a challenge, said forensic pathologist Priya Banerjee
NORTH PORT, FLORIDA: As the search for Brian Laundrie, the absconding fiance of 22-year-old Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito continues, experts wonder if connecting the 23-year-old to the body will be a challenge. On Tuesday, September 21, FBI identified the body found in Grand Teton National Park over the weekend as Petito's.
Teton County Coroner Brent Blue determined that her manner of death was a homicide but did not disclose a cause of death pending final autopsy results. On Fox News, forensic pathologist Priya Banerjee pointed out possible challenges. Banerjee on ‘Fox & Friends First’ said, "The challenge was obviously for my colleagues to determine the cause of death, performed the autopsy, and my professional feeling is that they're not going to release the cause of death yet with an ongoing investigation.”
"That's very preliminary in my opinion, but it's very important to release the manner of death, which, as you said, is homicide, because that tells us that she didn't die of a natural death,” she said. "This was due to someone's actions taking her life."
"That is a challenge, tying the perpetrator to the crime, especially, I want to say, in the setting of decomposition, this was out in the wild, high-temperature fluctuation," said Banerjee, adding that it would not be surprising if Laundrie's DNA was present since the two were in a relationship. "So that will be a challenge, I think, to tie it all together."
Banerjee added that it was important to consider all possibilities of how Petito died to successfully determined how she was killed. "You have to really rule out asphyxia or strangulation to the neck, make sure there's no blunt force trauma to the head or other parts of the body," said Banerjee. "So really a lot of potential ways that she could have been killed. It's not just one way. Sometimes a combination is you so really have to go and be casting a wide net and looking for those injuries."
Laundrie is the only person of interest in the case so far. Following the FBI’s announcement confirming Petito’s death, the lawyer for the Laundrie family issued a brief statement. "May Gabby rest in peace," Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said.
The FBI also requested for anyone with information about Laundrie’s role in Petito’s death to contact the agency. Laundrie, after initially refusing to cooperate with cops, disappeared. His parents told FBI agents they last saw him a week ago, when he told them he was planning to hike alone in the Carlton Reserve wilderness area, near North Port, Florida. North Port police have searched and continue to search the 24,000-acre area. But the police have not found him yet.
This has caused the internet to explode with speculation on where Laundrie might be hiding and where he’s headed. From Mexico to Cuba, many have tried to guess where the man might try to escape to. Others have also speculated that Laundrie may have died as well - either from being unable to survive harsh terrains or from suicide.