Oct 12, 2021
Gabby Petito Autopsy Press Conference Transcript: Strangulation Cause of Death
The Teton County coroner held a press conference on October 12, 2021 to announce the results of Gabby Petito’s autopsy. He announced that the cause of death was strangulation. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Dr. Brent Blue: (00:00)
… hereby find the cause and manner of death to be the cause of death by strangulation, and manner is homicide. By Wyoming State statute, no other information will be released about the autopsy. The only thing that is released in the State of Wyoming is cause and manner of death.
Speaker 2: (00:19)
I think they said they can’t hear you. Just one second. [inaudible 00:00:31].
Dr. Brent Blue: (00:31)
Should I start over then?
Speaker 2: (00:33)
Dr. Brent Blue: (00:33)
… hereby find the cause and manner of death to be, the cause, death by strangulation, and manner is homicide. By Wyoming state statute, no other information will be released about the autopsy. The other thing that is released in the state of Wyoming is cause and manner of death.
Speaker 2: (00:34)
I think they said they can’t hear you. Just one second. Go ahead.
Dr. Brent Blue: (00:34)
Should I start over then?
Speaker 2: (00:34)
Dr. Brent Blue: (00:37)
Thank you for joining us, sorry about the audio issue. I’m Dr. Brent Blue, Teton County Wyoming coroner. After a detailed investigation by our forensic pathologist, our anthropologist, and local law enforcement, with assistance from the FBI, the Teton County Coroner’s Office is following the following verdict: in the manner of death of Gabrielle Lenore Petito, we find the cause and manner to be, cause, death by strangulation, and manner is homicide.
Dr. Brent Blue: (01:10)
By Wyoming State statute, only the cause and manner of death are released. Autopsy findings and photographs, and that sort of material, is not released by state statute, and I’ll be glad to entertain some questions at this time.
Hi Brian, this is Alex with the [inaudible 00:01:36] Guide. Can you hear me?
Dr. Brent Blue: (01:37)
I’m curious whether you were able to pinpoint a date of death, and when Gabby’s remains will be returned to her family?
Dr. Brent Blue: (01:48)
The remains have been returned to the mortuary here, and the mortuary is dealing with the family at this time, as far as the disposition of the remains. As far as the time of death, we are estimating three to four weeks from the time that the body was found. That is actually [inaudible 00:02:11] than our office.
Kristen Waters: (02:18)
Chris [inaudible 00:02:24], you are able to ask your question now.
Dr. Brent Blue: (02:37)
What’s the question? I didn’t hear a question.
Kristen Waters: (02:45)
Chris, I believe that you are muted. If you can unmute yourself.
John Walsh: (02:53)
Okay. It’s John Walsh from In Pursuit with John Walsh on Discovery ID. Dr. Blue, thank you for your time. I think everybody in the world believes that Brian Laundrie killed Gabby. With your extensive work on the body, are you sure that it’s Brian Laundrie, and will the FBI issue a nationwide homicide warrant, now that they know the cause of death?
Dr. Brent Blue: (03:22)
We are only tasked with the determination of cause and manner of death. Who committed the homicide is up to law enforcement, and I cannot answer the question about the FBI. You would have to contact them.
Kristen Waters: (03:40)
Jeremy Copas, you are now allowed to ask your question.
Jeremy Copas: (03:44)
Yes, hello, Doctor. If you could please… Can you comment on any other bruising, maybe on the body, that possibly was healing. Possibly older bruises or cuts that might have been healing over the last couple of weeks before her passing.
Dr. Brent Blue: (04:04)
By Wyoming state statute, no other information about the autopsy is released, just the cause of death.
Heather Leigh: (04:20)
Hi there, this is Heather Leigh, a reporter at ABC Action News in Tampa, Florida. I just wanted to know if you could explain why it took about a month for this process to finish. I think a lot of people were hoping that they would learn this information sooner, so I just think if you could just explain the process and why it took a month.
Dr. Brent Blue: (04:43)
Well, the main reason was that we were very exacting in our examination, and the detail by which that examination was done. We were waiting for various specialists to come in and help us with this investigation, we were waiting on toxicology to be returned, and it was just a matter of making sure we had everything right.
Heather Leigh: (05:10)
Dr. Brent Blue: (05:24)
Is there another question?
Kristen Waters: (05:25)
Brian Enton, I believe you’re unmuted right now? Okay. Steve Sabian?
Steve Sabian: (05:46)
Yes, hi Doctor, how are you? I am curious if any DNA samples were taken from Gabby’s remains, and also if the body was intact, are you able to tell us the condition of Gabby’s remains?
Dr. Brent Blue: (06:03)
I can tell you the DNA samples were taken by law enforcement, and all I can tell you about remains is that the body was outside for three to four weeks.
Kristen Waters: (06:32)
Chris Vivian, do you have your hand up?
Dr. Brent Blue: (06:38)
Was that a question? I didn’t hear the question there.
Speaker 9: (06:38)
John Walsh: (06:43)
Dr. Brent Blue: (06:45)
John Walsh: (06:46)
It’s John Walsh again, from In Pursuit with John Walsh. You will probably be the most important witness at the trial, and I asked you before how confident you feel that Brian Laundrie… They use the somatics, he was a person of interest. I’m old school, he was the only suspect, ever, and I just wonder you’re going to be the most important guy at the trial, probably. Do you have any doubts it’s Brian Laundrie?
Dr. Brent Blue: (07:21)
I can’t make any comment about any suspects because we’re not involved in that part of the investigation. We are only involved in the investigation of the body of the deceased. So who committed the homicide is really to be determined by law enforcement.
John Walsh: (07:41)
Right, but I thank you for your hard work, and I always say in so many cases I’ve been involved in, “Let the pathologist and the coroner do their work, no matter how long it takes,” so I think you’ve probably done a really good job on this case. Thank you for your time.
Rochelle Alene: (08:05)
Hey there, Doctor, this is Rochelle Alene with ABC Action News in Tampa, just a quick question. Can you kind of walk us through the process to how you arrived at this specific manner of death?
Dr. Brent Blue: (08:15)
In the state of Wyoming, there are four possibilities for the manner of death. They are homicide, suicide, accident, and natural, and those are the four choices. When we do an investigation, we look at the crime scene, or the scene of the death, the scene of the body, the condition of the body, and findings at autopsy and toxicology, and that is how we arrive at the manner of death. So it really depends on lots of different circumstances.
Steve Sabian: (08:55)
Doctor, Steven Sabian again, from Inside Edition. Can you tell us if the body was buried when it was discovered, or if the body was on the surface?
Dr. Brent Blue: (09:05)
I can’t tell you that, that would be something you’d have to ask the FBI because we’re not allowed to release that information.
Kristen Waters: (09:26)
Kelly Vaughn? Do you have a question, Kelly Vaughn? We have Brian Enton in the chat who has a question. What’s your question, Brian?
Kristen Waters: (10:06)
Was there any impact on her body from weather or wild animals in the national park?
Dr. Brent Blue: (10:13)
I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the question.
Kristen Waters: (10:13)
Was there any impact on her body from weather or wild animals in the national park?
Dr. Brent Blue: (10:14)
All I can really comment about that is that her body was outside in the wilderness for three to four weeks.
Kristen Waters: (10:26)
KSL Assignment, you’re unmuted. KSL Assignment?
Dan Roscoe: (10:38)
Hello. Dan Roscoe here from KSL TV in Salt Lake. Dr. Blue, can you tell us at all whether or not was it believed that she was murdered there at that location, or is there any indication that her body was drug there or taken there, or can you give us any indication there?
Dr. Brent Blue: (10:54)
I can’t comment on that, that would be something you’d have to speak with law enforcement or the FBI.
Kristen Waters: (11:10)
Matthew Cella, do you have a question?
Hey, Dr. Blue. It’s actually Jimmy from DailyMail.com in New York here. What were the results of the toxicology reports, and is there any suggestion that Gabby had any drugs in your system? And if so, what were they?
Dr. Brent Blue: (11:31)
The results of the toxicology are not public knowledge, by Wyoming state statute, so I can’t comment about that.
Kristen Waters: (11:41)
We have a question from the chat. Was Gabby Petito pregnant?
Dr. Brent Blue: (11:50)
She was not pregnant.
Kristen Thorne: (12:03)
Thomas Taupe: (12:05)
Hi Doctor. My question, did you seek the advice of a forensic entomologist or a forensic botanist during the course of your investigation?
Dr. Brent Blue: (12:17)
The FBI has sent materials to a forensic entomologist.
Kristen Waters: (12:32)
Terry Parker: (12:36)
Hi Doctor, this is Terry Parker from WPBF in Palm Beach County, Florida. I’m wondering, you said you were very thorough in this autopsy and examination. Could you give us an example of the type of test and analyses you performed?
Dr. Brent Blue: (12:54)
This autopsy included a whole body CAT scan, a examination by a forensic pathologist, an examination by a forensic anthropologist, and a toxicology evaluation. So it pretty much covered all the bases.
Kristen Waters: (13:22)
Jeremy Copas: (13:25)
Yes, Doctor, thanks for taking a question again. You mentioned that strangulation is the cause of death. Can you talk about how you came to that conclusion?
Dr. Brent Blue: (13:39)
I cannot. That is part of the autopsy findings, and is not discoverable by Wyoming statute.
Jeremy Copas: (13:47)
Was there any other cause of death that a possibility in this case?
Dr. Brent Blue: (13:55)
Well, we look at all causes, all possibilities, when we try to determine cause of death, but this is the cause of death that we determined.
Kristen Waters: (14:05)
I have a question from chat. It is was the manner of death obvious? Strangulation marks, bones, injured neck?
Dr. Brent Blue: (14:31)
Nothing is obvious in a situation like this, so a detailed analysis was used both to determine manner and cause of death. I can’t go into details on how we made those decisions.
Kristen Waters: (14:49)
Kristen Thorne: (14:53)
Yes, hi Doctor. Kristen Thorne with WABC in New York. Could you just please repeat about how long you believe the body was out there? Unfortunately, the last time you spoke, we just didn’t get a good film shot of you saying that. Would you mind repeating that?
Dr. Brent Blue: (15:10)
Our initial determination is the body was in the wilderness for three to four weeks.
Kristen Thorne: (15:17)
Speaker 15: (15:22)
[crosstalk 00:15:22] Okay. Shaquelle, will you give me a thumbs up, we’re ready? Okay.
Kristen Thorne: (15:26)
Speaker 15: (15:27)
Okay. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’re back in full session. Thank you for your help on that closed session.
Kristen Waters: (15:33)
Nice job on that ice breaker, I appreciate our security team here.
Speaker 16: (15:41)
[crosstalk 00:15:41] Sorry about that. Good afternoon, Doctor Blue. Relating back to the date of death, is there a date listed on the death certificate?
Dr. Brent Blue: (15:48)
The death certificate is probably completed at this time, and the death certificates in the state of Wyoming allow for approximate dates and variability in [inaudible 00:15:57], so I doubt there will not be a date of death on the death certificate. [crosstalk 00:16:14]
Kristen Waters: (16:14)
Eileen with News 12.
Eileen LePalmer: (16:17)
Hi Doctor. This is Eileen LePalmer from News 12. We sort of asked it a little bit, but is there a way that you can explain how you know that it was strangulation? Sometimes I know that the hyoid bone could be missing, is that something that you discovered in this case?
Dr. Brent Blue: (16:32)
I can’t comment on that because it would be a finding of the autopsy. And as I stated before, in the state of Wyoming the autopsy results are not public knowledge.
Eileen LePalmer: (16:44)
So then you can’t clarify whether it was manual strangulation or with an item, correct?
Dr. Brent Blue: (16:48)
Kristen Waters: (16:57)
Michael Ruiz: (17:00)
Thanks for making time for us, Doctor. Was the entire examination conducted at your lab in Jackson, or was Gabby Petito’s body shipped to another facility?
Dr. Brent Blue: (17:08)
The examination was done entirely at our org in Teton County, Wyoming.
Kristen Waters: (17:20)
Ashleigh Banfield: (17:25)
Grigorio. It’s actually Ashleigh Banfield with NewsNation. Doctor, thank you for taking the time today. Can I ask you if, from the very beginning of your process, was it obvious that the cause, not the manner, that the cause was strangulation, and that you just needed this time to prove it out? Or were completely unaware from the beginning what the cause of death was for Gabby Petito, and had to resolve through a number of puzzles solving manners and other experts to arrive at that final cause determination?
Dr. Brent Blue: (18:04)
In a situation like this, nothing is obvious, and so the cause of death required investigation.
Kristen Waters: (18:17)
We have a William Walkey.
William Walkey: (18:22)
Hey there, Dr. Blue, my name is Will. I’m from [inaudible 00:18:26] Jacksonville Community Radio here in Jackson. You’re a small town coroner here in western Wyoming, This case got so much national attention, as we can see right now. Can you speak on what it was like doing your job with such a big spotlight on you? Thanks.
Dr. Brent Blue: (18:41)
Well, it was quite the media circus, and continues to be. Unfortunately, this is all a one of many deaths around the country of people who are involved in domestic violence, and it’s unfortunate that these other deaths did not get as much coverage as this one. I’m assuming that because the deceased was a blogger that this received more coverage than others, but there are a lot of both men and women who have lost their lives that aren’t covered with this kind of media attention.
Kristen Waters: (19:21)
Francis DiFiore: (19:26)
Yes. Hello, this is Francis DiFiore from the Port Charlotte Sun. Just want to go back to my previous question, although I imagined your response. Is there anything you can tell us about how exactly you determined it was a three to four week period before death?
Dr. Brent Blue: (19:48)
I can’t go into that kind of information at this time.
Francis DiFiore: (19:51)
I understand, thank you very much.
Dr. Brent Blue: (20:02)
Why don’t we take one more question then?
Kristen Waters: (20:05)
We have the Snack Squad.
Andrew Mercado: (20:10)
Hey, this is Andrew Mercado from Mercado Media. Could you go over the length of time the autopsy report took? And thank you for your time, Dr. Blue.
Dr. Brent Blue: (20:21)
Well, the length of time was involved, in the sense that we received a report from the investigating and examining forensic pathologist. We had a report done by our anthropologist, and we had toxicology studies that were done, in addition to the report from the radiologic studies. So all these came together, and that’s what took time for us to complete this investigation.
Thomas Taupe: (20:56)
Hi Doctor, could you speak to the state of decomposition, and did that at all hinder your investigation?
Dr. Brent Blue: (21:05)
I can’t comment on that.
Kristen Waters: (21:17)
Dr. Blue, would you like to take any more questions?
Dr. Brent Blue: (21:23)
Unless there’s other specific questions that haven’t been answered already, why don’t we close this? And thank you all very much for your participation, and I can tell you that I will not be answering any other detailed questions about the autopsy. As I said, state statute prevents us from doing that, so contacting me by email and phone is not going to reveal any additional information. But thank you for your time, and I appreciate your interest.
Kristen Waters: (21:54)
Dr. Blue, I have one more question. Is there a way to determine if this was accidental or deliberate?
Dr. Brent Blue: (22:05)
You mean in the sense of a homicide?
Kristen Waters: (22:09)
Dr. Brent Blue: (22:11)
That would be up to law enforcement to make that determination.
Kristen Waters: (22:16)
Great, thank you.
Dr. Brent Blue: (22:20)
Again, thank you all very much for your time.