A body found in Teton-Bridger National Forest is that of missing hiker Gabby Petito. And the Teton County coroner has pronounced the 22-year-old’s death a homicide.
However, that was just a preliminary autopsy finding. The cause of death remains pending final autopsy results, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
So how long before the final report is released? It could be a long wait for Petito’s family. Likewise for local and federal authorities investigating her death.
Gabby Petito Final Autopsy Report Could Take Weeks
According to forensic pathologist Dr. Stephen J. Cina, autopsies are best performed within 24 hours of death. However, even autopsies done on partially decomposed bodies can reveal important information, he told PBS.
It is not known how long Petito’s body was in the national forest after her death. Her mother last heard from Petito on Aug. 25. She received several texts from Petito after that. But she says she can’t be sure the texts were really sent by her daughter.
The preliminary results of an autopsy can go out within 24 hours. But the full results can take up to six weeks to come out.
Petito’s Former Boyfriend Is Still Missing
Gabby Petito had embarked on a cross-country road trip this past summer with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. The two made their way westward together, documenting their travels on YouTube, before stopping in Grand Teton National Park in late August. After that, Petito disappeared.
Police have since released bodycam video footage of a stop in Moab, Utah. Someone had called 9-1-1 and reported a domestic disturbance. In the video, Petito is clearly distraught and Laundrie appears calm. According to the police report, officers were told that Petito had been the aggressor. She allegedly slapped Laundrie, who then pushed her back. At the time, police decided that the best recourse was to separate the couple for one night.
At some point before or after Petito’s death, she and Laundrie parted ways. In early September, Laundrie returned alone to Florida in the white Ford converted camper van the couple had been sharing. He returned to his parents’ house. Then he lawyered up and refused to talk to Petito’s family or to investigators.
Last week, three days after Laundrie left his parents’ home for a hike in a local nature preserve, his parents reported him missing. His whereabouts are still unknown. But tipsters have reported seeing him in Alabama. So far, none of the reported sightings of Laundrie have proved to be him.
Laundrie is a person of interest in the investigation into Petito’s disappearance. Now that her death has been ruled a homicide, it ramps up the pressure on authorities to track him down. Police are asking anyone with solid information on Laundrie’s whereabouts to contact them immediately.