For the first time, authorities exclusively attributed the responsibility for Petito’s death to Brian Laundrie, despite him being the primary suspect throughout.
As per a statement issued by the FBI in Denver, investigators also disclosed that Laundrie, a 23-year-old individual, had sent text messages with the deliberate intention to mislead others into believing that Petito, aged 22, was alive even after he assaulted and choked her in the latter part of August.
In the statement, Michael Schneider, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Denver Division, expressed, “All reasonable investigative measures have been completed in this matter.” “The inquiry failed to uncover any additional persons apart from Brian Laundrie who were directly implicated in the unfortunate demise of Gabby Petito.”
Authorities did not clarify the details of the messages Laundrie sent.
“The cause of her death, determined by a coroner, was blunt-force injuries to the head and neck along with manual strangulation. Petito’s remains were found on September 19th at a campground close to Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming.”
Following his sudden disappearance, Laundrie made his way back to his residence in Florida in the beginning of September. Adjacent to their dwelling, his parents discovered an object that belonged to him in a natural sanctuary in October.
Further searching turned up Laundrie’s remains, a revolver, backpack and the notebook. Medical examiners determined Laundrie died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
As per the statement, the messages were exchanged between Laundrie’s phone and Petito’s phone. The FBI did not clarify the exact content of Laundrie’s writing in the notebook and the messages he had sent to deceive.
The content and timing of these messages are indicative of Mr. Laundrie’s attempt to deceive law enforcement, giving the impression that Ms. Petito was still alive.
The pair were halted by authorities approximately one month prior to the discovery of Petito’s remains.
Over the past few years, Laundrie and Petito resided in Florida but were raised on Long Island, New York. The duo explored Grand Teton last summer while embarking on a van journey across the country, which concluded with Laundrie enigmatically returning home solo in the vehicle.
Following a physical altercation, law enforcement intervened and apprehended them in the vicinity of Moab, Utah, on August 12th. Subsequently, they traversed the state of Colorado, and the duo chronicled their journey on Instagram.
Instead of pressing charges, the officers opted to separate them for the evening; however, law enforcement determined that Petito was the one who initiated the conflict, presenting a video to the police in which Petito narrated an escalating altercation.
Last week, an independent report was released that revealed a girl slapping a man and a couple outside their van were witnessed by a 911 caller. The caller reported that investigators did not obtain a statement and criticized their overall connection. The report also highlighted signs that Petito was probably a victim and criticized the police for not issuing a domestic violence citation to Petito, even though she informed them that she had struck Laundrie initially.
The tragic search for Petito ultimately drew worldwide attention, sparking discussions about dating violence and social media sleuthing, shining a light on the disproportionate coverage of missing white women in the U.S. Compared to other missing persons.
On Friday, the FBI’s findings regarding the request for text messages and emails did not satisfy the attorneys representing the Laundrie and Petito families.