Gabby Petito: Is autopsy result being hidden? Expert fears clues of death may be gone
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING: Amid rising curiosity about Gabby Petito's manner of death, speculations are rife that the cause of death is yet to be ascertained by the autopsy or is being withheld by the police. A preliminary autopsy of the human remains found in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park on September 19 identified the body as Petito's and confirmed the cause of death as homicide. However, further details about her death have not been revealed since, with growing concerns about evidence being destroyed due to rapid decomposition.
The 22-year-old's body has still not been released by investigators, her stepfather, Jim Schmidt, revealed in a press conference this week, even as her funeral was held in New York. More than a week after she was reported missing, Petito was found dead at the Spread Creek Dispersed Campground in the Bridger-Teton National Forrest on Sunday, September 19 in Wyoming. Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue confirmed the vlogger's death was a homicide but the immediate cause of death is still unclear as police are still waiting for the final autopsy results. Meanwhile, the search is on for her missing fiance Brian Laundrie, who took a cross-country road trip with Petito but returned home alone.
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Meanwhile, forensic and criminology experts are fearing that the police are struggling to find clues from Petito's remains, hence the delay in declaration of the autopsy results. There are also speculations about cops deliberately not releasing the autopsy updates to safeguard the course of the investigation.
According to Joseph Giacalone, a professor of Criminal Justice at the City University in New York, the evidence found in autopsy might be limited due to a wide variety of reasons. "If she’s strangled, the evidence is going to be limited. In the respect that you’re not going to have blood everywhere and, you know, hair fibers or all that other stuff," he told The Insider.
Previously, retired San Diego Police Department Crime Lab director Jennifer Shen had shared her expertise on the possible reasons for delaying the autopsy results. "The death was referred to as a homicide very quickly after her body was found. This generally indicates the cause of death was pretty apparent to those that found her. I would assume there was visible trauma consistent with some kind of attack (i.e. gunshot wounds, knife wounds, obvious signs of strangulation etc.)," she had said.
"The official cause of death and the autopsy report will likely take weeks to release. There are many in-depth toxicological tests that are completed to be thorough and to provide any and all information her body has to offer," Shen also mentioned. She further shed light on the possibility of finding a murder weapon. "If the weapon was a gun, they would attempt to match it to any bullets/cartridge casings found at the scene, or in her body. The gun could be traced to see where it came from, and its transactional history. In addition, physical evidence such as blood, touch DNA, prints, or trace evidence could tie the gun to the scene, or to the killer," Shen revealed.
However, the theories around Petito's unnatural death are all speculative at the moment since the cops do not seem ready to divulge any more postmortem details.