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World: Gabby Petito autopsy: Retired homicide detective says key evidence in van, cause of death should've been held

Gabby Petito: the sister of Brian Laundrie Cache Does a secret?

 Gabby Petito: the sister of Brian Laundrie Cache Does a secret? While Brian Laundrie is still actively sought since the disappearance and the discovery of the body of his girlfriend Gabby Petito's sister, he has distanced himself from his family.

Gabby Petito’s 2012 white Ford Transit van could contain crucial evidence for obtaining a conviction in her slaying, which authorities ruled a homicide by strangulation Tuesday, according to a longtime investigator.

Pat Diaz, who spent more than two decades of his 35-year law enforcement career with the Miami-Dade homicide unit and helped on the "Cocaine Cowboys" case, said the vehicle and phone records contain a trove of information useful to investigators.

"That’s their evidence, that’s their key evidence there, the van," he told Fox News. "Everything that they’re gonna be able to prove…it’s gonna come out of that truck."

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  Gabby Petito's parents believe Brian Laundrie is still alive, recall learning tragic news Gabby Petito's parents believe Brian Laundrie is still alive, recall learning tragic news The parents of Gabby Petito described in heartbreaking detail the moments when they heard the news that their 22-year-old daughter’s remains were believed to have been found in Wyoming after she had been missing for weeks, and say they believe her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is still alive. Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, Gabby’s mother and father, and her nearly lifelong stepparents, Tara Petito and Jim Schmidt, sat down for an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw that aired Tuesday on his show.


But if the van doesn’t have conclusive evidence linking Petito’s killer to the crime, Tuesday’s Teton County coroner news conference could present an uphill battle for prosecutors, he warned.

"The one thing you have in this whole case is the cause of death," he said.

It would have been difficult to determine, due to the state of Petito’s remains after more than three weeks in the wilderness, and likely required an X-ray examination to be sure.

With that information out in the public, it could make even a confession difficult to use at trial unless it includes clear details that still remain unavailable. And for that reason, he said investigators probably didn’t want the cause to be released Tuesday, even though it had already been withheld from the public for weeks.

Van-Lifer Gabby Petito Was Strangled to Death, Coroner Says

  Van-Lifer Gabby Petito Was Strangled to Death, Coroner Says Doomed “van-lifer” Gabby Petito died by strangulation, Teton County, Wyoming, Coroner Brent Blue announced Tuesday. “By Wyoming state statute, only the cause and manner of death are released,” said Blue, who last month ruled Petito’s death a homicide. “The autopsy findings and photographs and that sort of material [will not be] released.” Law enforcement collected DNA samples from Petito’s remains, according to Blue, who declined to provide details but said her “body was outside for three to four weeks.” That means Petito was killed sometime in mid to late August. She was not pregnant at the time of her death, said Blue.

"I would have totally been against releasing the cause of death," he said. "I would have said the body was a terrible state of condition, we’re still processing the body, and buy more time – then given the cause of death."


Investigators have so far held off from publicly naming a suspect in the case. Brian Laundrie, Petito’s former fiancé, is a person of interest.

He’s also wanted on a federal warrant for alleged debit card fraud that took place after Petito’s death in late August.

Just two weeks before Petito’s last conversation with her mother and she was last seen in public, witnesses in Moab, Utah, called police to report a possible domestic incident in which Laundrie was allegedly slapping and hitting Petito in broad daylight.

However responding officers were told by Petito, Laundrie and one of the witnesses that she initiated the altercation – and they declined to cite anyone or press charges.

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Instead, they deemed it a "mental health break" and drove Laundrie to a motel, where they told him to spend the night. It’s unclear if he did.

Five days later, Laundrie flew back to Tampa from Salt Lake City. He spent six days in Florida and met Petito in Utah on Aug. 23.

They set off for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming the next day – and she was last seen in public on Aug. 27. That evening, a travel blogging couple filmed her van at a campsite just inside Bridger-Teton National forest off Spread Creek Road north of Jackson.

The campsite is roughly where an FBI-led search team found Petito’s body on Sept. 19.

Now that manual strangulation has been established as a cause of death, some experts believe a first-degree murder charge is a possibility for whoever is eventually named a suspect.

"It almost always gets you first-degree murder because premeditation can be formed in an instant," Mark Eiglarsh, a criminal defense attorney and former Miami-Dade County prosecutor, told Fox News on Tuesday. "You put your hands around the neck, that’s an unwanted touching, that’s simple battery or assault. Then you start to squeeze, your argument could be, ‘Well, I just wanted to scare them.' But then you contuse to affix pressure… There’s a certain amount of minimal time that someone needs to do that before somebody is dead."

Laundrie and the van are believed to have returned to his parents’ North Port, Florida, home on Sept. 1. The family said nothing about Petito’s disappearance – which her mother reported 10 days later to police in New York.

Through their attorney, Laundries’ parents claim they haven’t seen their son since Sept. 13. His whereabouts remained unknown as of Wednesday morning.

Fox News' Paul Best contributed to this report.

Brian Laundrie's lawyer: FBI has 'everything they need' in Gabby Petito murder probe .
The attorney for now-deceased Brian Laundrie and his vilified parents said he has been told by the FBI that they believe they "have everything they need" with respect to the investigation into the murder of Gabby Petito. Sitting down with Fox News Digital at his New York office Friday, Steven Bertolino addressed questions about whether Chris and Roberta Laundrie planned to cooperate in the investigation into the death of their son's late fiancée. After explaining what the FBI had told him, Bertolino added: "I was unaware of that as of yesterday. So, things change every day in this saga." "And it is tragic.

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