The initial autopsy of Brian Laundrie’s remains did not uncover a cause of his death, though a more intensive examination will be done, a Laundrie family lawyer said Monday.
After a long manhunt, Laundrie’s remains was found in Florida last week. He was the sole person of interest in the murder of his fiancé Gabby Petito after the pair went on a cross-country road trip to national parks. Petito’s corpse was discovered Sept. 19, near a Wyoming campground.
The case drew worldwide attention and rogue investigations by social media users across the country, with many wondering if we’ll ever learn what happened to the couple.
Steve Bertolino, the Laundries’ attorney, said in text messages Monday that he was told by police the autopsy by the Sarasota County medical examiner did not produce concrete results on Brian’s death.
“I was told the manner and cause of death were not determined and the remains were sent to an anthropologist (for) further evaluation,” Bertolino said.
Laundrie’s skeletal remains found in a Florida nature preserve were positively identified last week using dental records, according to the FBI. The medical examiner’s office declined comment Monday, as did the FBI office in Denver that is leading the probe.
Eventually, Laundrie’s remains will be cremated and no funeral is planned by his family, Bertolino said.
No information has yet been released on what investigators found in a backpack and notebook found with Laundrie’s remains.
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Petito’s murder was only the case in which Laundrie was of any interest, and he wasn’t charged. After Petito’s disappearance, he was accused of unauthorized debit card use and account fraud.
After they had been travelling together in a white van, suspicion grew when Laundrie, who was not with Laundrie, returned to North Port, Florida. Laundrie wouldn’t cooperate with law enforcers and her parents reported her missing in New York just days after she disappeared. Laundrie, who was also reported missing by her parents in New York days later, told his family that he had been hiking in large reserves near their home.
There has also been wide speculation about the issue of potential intimate partner violence in the relationship, stemming from police body camera footage from when officers in Moab, Utah, pulled the couple over Aug. 12 after a 911 call reporting that “the gentleman was slapping the girl.”
Petito was strangled to death in her home. According to the coroner, her body was known to have been present for several weeks before its discovery.
Some experts have said Petito’s murder could end up a cold case, with the only person to have been with her before the murder now dead.
“The investigation could go on indefinitely,” Steven Capriati, a former Hillsborough County prosecutor, told local station WFLA. “If they go and decide Brian was responsible and there’s no one else they can blame, then that’s the end and the family will have to live with it and it’s a tragic incident.”
Jill Hengel is Petito’s great aunt and said that finding Laundrie dead will make it harder for Petito to find answers.
That is not justice. Parents would never be able to know. And they want to know,” Hengel told local CBS affiliate WTSP.
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Do we know the cause of Brian Laundrie’s death?
Because only skeletal remains could be found, the FBI stated that Laundrie’s remains had been identified by dental records. This will make it harder to identify the reason for his death.
They were discovered in an area previously submerged beneath water. Officials said Laundrie’s father first spotted a bag that belonged to Laundrie, and law enforcement officials then discovered the remains and other belongings, including a notebook, nearby – after five weeks of searching by law enforcement.
The family lawyer Monday said that Laundrie’s remains would be examined by an anthropist because an autopsy couldn’t definitively determine the cause of death.
“There might not be a way to determine how he died,” Jim Clemente, a former FBI profiler, told CNN. His skeleton would not bear any proof that he drowned.
Dr. Cyril Wecht, who has been involved in high-profile death investigations, said a key part of the investigation will be to determine how long the body had been there.
“If he shot himself, that will still be evident,” Wecht said. “If he stabbed himself, that could be obliterated or markedly obscured by virtue of the post-mortem period and submersion in water.”
It will also be interesting to see what contents the notebook contained and if it can still be read. It could contain clues to Petito’s fate or to Laundrie’s intentions to harm.
Suicide was “always a concern” given his state of mind when he left for the hike, Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
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This case of Petito and Laundrie has attracted national attention and spurred speculation by “social media sleuths.” The conspiracies spiraled out of control, as they followed every stage of the investigation.
The conspiracy theories continue even after Laundrie was identified by law enforcement.
Social media users are speculating on whether Petito or Laundrie were killed by someone else. The evidence does not support either of these theories.
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Internet researchers have also investigated the Laundrie clan’s role in Petito’s disappearance. Although they initially refused to talk with police after Petito was reported missing by his family, they directed Petito’s attorney and raised suspicions as to whether the Laundries knew anything regarding Petito’s death. Many people have accused Roberta and Chris Laundrie for covering up their son’s death. The lawyer for the couple has strongly refuted this accusation.
Multiple false sightings were made during Laundrie’s search.
However, the extra attention also helped find other bodies. Travel bloggers who recorded the van of Petito and then reported it to the media helped find the body.
Contribution: The Associated Press