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Gabby Petito’s autopsy paints a grim picture of final moments, experts say


Gabby Petito’s autopsy finding she died of a strangulation homicide indicates a likelihood of domestic violence and lethal intent at the Wyoming campsite where an FBI investigation uncovered her remains last month, said experts at Fox News.

Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, who shared the campsite with her before returning to Florida alone and disappearing himself, has been named as a person of interest in her death and is wanted under a federal fraud warrant. by credit card.

Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue announced on Tuesday that Petito had died from “manual strangulation / strangulation,” meaning she was killed by hand and not with an object like a rope or chain .

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Dr Dan Field, a certified emergency physician and expert witness in strangulation and homicide cases, said killing someone by strangulation is a long and deliberate process.

“I [testified in] a murder case in Florida, where the defense was trying to advance the theory that it was a moment of passion – and so the question I was asked is how long does it take to that a strangulation is killing someone? ”he told Fox News Digital.“ The numbers are very, very precise. ”

It takes around 62 to 157 seconds, he said.

“And then the question for the prosecution is, does that sound like a ‘moment of passion’ – 62 seconds?” he said.

According to Field, victims can lose consciousness within the first five to ten seconds after the strangulation is applied – due to a combination of lack of oxygen, reflexes and blockage of blood flow. The seizure can occur between 11 and 17 seconds. Within 30 seconds, they lose control of other organs.

But death takes longer.

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“It’s surprisingly quick, but it’s not a moment,” said Field. “It’s not a flap. It’s not a pull of the trigger.”

And more often than not, such attacks are deliberate, he said. While the sequence of events leading up to Petito’s death remains publicly unknown, Field said that statistically speaking, accidental strangulation between intimate partners is much less common than a criminal act.

“Unlikely, just by the numbers, unlikely to be erotic asphyxiation,” he said. However, this remains a possibility.

Prosecutors have also stopped before charging anyone in Petito’s death, so it’s unclear what they will argue or try to prove in court.

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“If you don’t have an eyewitness, then you’re going to have to build a circumstantial case,” Field explained. “And if the circumstances place them both in the same place, at the same time, or around the time of his death, that is circumstantial evidence that he was involved in his death. Not proof – but proof. circumstantial. “

Petito’s remains have been left in the Wyoming wilderness for at least three weeks, Blue said at his press conference on Tuesday. During this time, the environment and wildlife likely caused significant decomposition, but some clues may have remained in place.

One is believed to be a broken hyoid bone in the victim’s neck, Field said. Others include bleeding in the muscles of the neck strap or damage to the carotid artery or jugular. Blue declined to elaborate on his findings, but was confident in the official decision of the manual strangulation.

Strangulation can also be unforeseen, emotional and impulsive, according to Dr. Ziv Cohen, a New York-based criminal psychiatrist.

“Strangulation is a more intimate type of homicide, and so it usually points us to someone who certainly knew her or who could have been physically with her,” he said.

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Further evidence of the physical appearance between the couple can be seen in the Moab Police body camera video from Aug. 12, he added.

“We know from people who called 911, Brian Laundrie was seen hitting her,” he said. “And we know she admitted on the body camera footage that she scratched him.”

Field drew a similar conclusion.

“If there has been evidence of interpersonal violence before, it increases the likelihood of a deadly strangulation much more,” he said, also referring to the Moab incident. “So I know there were some issues between the two. Apparently they were making their way across the country in the van.”

Petito also made a gesture in the body camera video towards her jaw – which Salt Lake City-based private investigator Jason Jensen said earlier this week is a red flag indicating she had already been seized. at the throat.

“Any victim who has ever been strangled – his natural reaction is to lower his chin towards his collarbone to keep that hand from going around his throat,” he said.

Two weeks after the Moab incident, after Laundrie visited his home in Florida for a week and then returned to meet Petito again in Utah, eyewitnesses saw the couple embroiled in a feud with waitresses in a restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming called Merry Piglets.

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Laundrie has left and has returned several times to chat with restaurant workers, Nina Celie Angelo and Matthew England told Fox News last month. And upset Petito apologized for his behavior. It might have been the last time anyone saw her in public alive.

“There’s a lot of evidence, 911 calls, witnesses to Merry Piglets, and I think there were other witnesses, that their relationship was getting out of hand,” Cohen said. “There were conflicts, verbal conflicts, physical conflicts, and certainly, I think the Merry Piglets episode is significant in the sense that even other people clashed with Brian Laundrie.”

Five days later, he arrived at his parents’ house in Florida in Petito’s van – without her. The FBI discovered his remains at a campsite just outside of Jackson on September 19.

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“We know he couldn’t contain his behavior, even in a public place like a restaurant,” Cohen said. “When we find her shortly thereafter strangled to death, it suggests some sort of intimate homicide, domestic violence, a type of couple-to-couple homicide – and therefore certainly makes Brian Laundrie the prime suspect.”

Additionally, details of the crime scene that weren’t made public could be a factor in the charges, if any, that prosecutors ultimately seek, Cohen said.

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The positioning of Petito’s body could indicate remorse or cruelty, for example.

“This is still circumstantial evidence,” he said. “But it might indicate something that is more suggestive of intimate partner violence.”