Where does the probe go next to kill Gabby Petito?
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Now that Brian Laundrie’s decomposed remains have been found, where is the investigation into the strangling of his girlfriend, Gabby Petito going?
Petito, 22, was found dead last month on the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, one of the places the young couple visited on a van trip across the country that s ends with Laundrie’s mysterious return home to Florida alone in the vehicle.
Laundrie, named a “person of interest” in the case, went missing for a month before her skeletal remains were found Wednesday in a swampy wilderness park near her home.
The case has sparked worldwide interest and many online theories from amateur detectives of real crimes. He also shed light on the many missing persons cases involving women of color who did not receive a fraction of the attention given to Petito, who was white.
Here are some outstanding questions:
Maybe it would take a DNA match to answer that. Both sets of remains were exposed to the elements and animals for weeks.
The FBI did not say if there were any witnesses to Petito’s murder or its immediate aftermath. One piece of evidence is Laundrie’s use of a debit card that did not belong to him after Petito went missing.
“It would be circumstantial evidence pointing to him,” said Alfredo Garcia, former dean of St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami Gardens and former Miami attorney. “It’s a difficult proposition to make but not impossible.”
The DNA pairing effort and any use of fingerprints would be complicated by the couple being in love and living together in close quarters. But forensic experts have many techniques to solve crimes despite such obstacles.
âReconstruction experts can do amazing things, so I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we come to a definitive, or near-definitive, conclusion that Laundrie was the killer,â said Bob Jarvis, law professor at the Nova Southeastern University of Florida.
Laundrie, 23, was reported missing from his North Port home on September 17, two days after being named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance.
His family said Laundrie left home on September 13, telling parents Chris and Robert Laundrie he was going for a hike in the 25,000-acre (10,100-hectare) Carlton Preserve a few miles away.
Federal, state and local law enforcement officials spent weeks searching the reserve, where at one point 75% of the land was underwater. The area is home to alligators, bobcats, coyotes and snakes.
Although divers and cadaverous dogs were brought in, it wasn’t until the heavy late summer rains stopped and the water receded that Laundrie’s remains along with a backpack and a notebook belonging to him were found with the help of his father.
Authorities did not disclose Laundrie’s cause of death or indicate whether a note or other evidence relating to Petito had been found.
Prosecutors could look into obstruction of justice charges against the parents if they hid their son, but it would not be an easy case to prove, legal experts have said. Petito’s body had yet to be found while he was at home.
âIt’s a steep hill to climb,â Garcia said. “How can you establish that they knew he had committed the crime?” Did they intentionally help him avoid detection and arrest? You have to establish knowledge and intention.
Laundrie’s parents did not give any media interviews and initially referred law enforcement officials to their lawyer, Steven Bertolino. He said the parents had cooperated with investigators and were heartbroken over the whole situation.
Before his disappearance, Laundrie did not want to speak to the police, on the advice of his lawyer.
WILL THERE BE IMPACTS FOR THE UTAH POLICE?
The Moab, Utah Police Department is conducting an internal review of officers’ actions when Petito and Laundrie were arrested on August 12 after the two scuffled.
Police body cam video showed a distraught Petito describing a brawl that had escalated. A police report concluded that she was the perpetrator, but the only injuries were a few scratches. The agents decided to separate them for the night rather than press charges.
The question is whether the Moab officers followed the policy and, if not, whether it led to further violence and possibly the murder of Petito.
Much has been said in the media about the intense interest in Petito’s case compared to the scant attention given to the many missing persons cases involving women of color.
Native American women, in particular, generate little media coverage when they go missing.
In Wyoming, where Petito was found, only 18% of cases of missing Indigenous women over the past decade were mentioned in the media, according to a state report released in January.
A sample of 247 missing teens in New York and California found that 34% of white teenage cases were covered by the media, compared to just 7% of black teens and 14% of Latino youth, according to Carol Liebler, communications professor. in Syracuse. University.
âWhat is communicated is that white lives matter more than people of color,â she said.
Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, said the Gabby Petito Foundation is in the process of being formed and will seek to fill any gaps that exist in the search for missing persons.
“We need positive things to come out of the tragedy that has happened,” he said. “We cannot let his name be taken in vain.”
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