Gabby Petito: Killing someone by strangulation is a “long, deliberate process,” says Dr. Dan Field, a board-certified emergency physician and an expert witness in Florida strangulation homicide cases.
Dr. Field is precise when he speaks of Gabby Petito’s autopsy results. Earlier this week, the public would learn that the 22-year-olds cause of death was “manual strangulation/throttling.” This means that the hands of another person were used to end her life, and not a rope or object.
In homicide cases, strangulation sometimes indicates domestic violence as the cause. It’s a far more “intimate” type of murder, Dr. Field, says, citing that cases of this nature almost always boil down to the killer being someone close to the victim. This, however, leads investigators to also consider the act as one of passion, intimacy, or eroticism. But Dr. Field isn’t buying it.
“I [testified in] a murder case in Florida, where the defense was trying to put forth the theory that it was a moment of passion… And so the question I was asked is how long does it take for strangulation to kill somebody?” Field tells Fox News Digital Thursday. “The numbers are very, very specific.”
How specific? He says between 62 and 157 seconds are required to kill a victim by manual strangulation.
“And then the question the prosecution has is, does that sound like a ‘moment of passion’… 62 seconds?” Dr. Field laments. For the case he mentions, prosecutors would secure a conviction.
Death of Gabby Petito and Other Strangulation Victims is ‘Not the Pulling of a Trigger’
Field cites that victims can and do lose consciousness within the first 10 seconds of a stranglehold. Sometimes it happens much faster – around 5 seconds. Seizures can then follow at 11 to 17 seconds. By the time 30 seconds have passed, the victim begins losing control of their bodily organs.
Death, however, takes far longer.
“It is surprisingly quick, but it’s not a moment,” Field continues. “It’s not a flap. It’s not the pulling of a trigger.”
The amount of time it takes to take someone’s life with the bare hands almost always speaks to deliberate murder, Dr. Field says. And murder statistics show that any accidental or “moment of passion” strangulations are far less common.
All of this in mind, Field says it is “Unlikely, just by the numbers, unlikely to be erotic asphyxiation.”
But it does remain possible. Or, it has to in the eyes of authorities and prosecutors, at least. And officials are highly invested in the retrieval of Gabby Petito’s fiancé, Brian Laundrie.
Brian Laundrie Remains at Large
Laundrie remains at large for the fourth week in a row. He is a person of interest in the 22-year-olds death, but has not been charged.
“If you don’t have an eyewitness, then you’re going to have to build a circumstantial case,” Dr. Field explains.
“And if the circumstances place the two of them in the same place, at the same time or near the time of her death, that’s circumstantial evidence that, he was involved in her death.”
In the end, “If there’s been evidence of some interpersonal violence previously, it raises the likelihood of homicidal strangulation to a much higher degree,” Field offers.
And as records show, Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie had a documented history of recent domestic violence.