Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue made an initial determination that Gabrielle Venora Petito's death was a homicide, according to an FBI statement released via social media just after 3 p.m. Tuesday.
The cause of death is pending final autopsy results, according to the statement. Petito was born March 19, 1999. She was 22.
"The FBI's commitment to justice is at the forefront of each and every investigation," said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. "The FBI and our partners remain dedicated to ensuring anyone responsible for or complicit in Ms. Petito's death is held accountable for their actions."
Petito's boyfriend Brian Laundrie has been named a person of interest, and the FBI requested that anyone with information concerning Laundrie's role in the homicide or his current whereabouts should contact the FBI.
The forensic search team has concluded its survey of the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the east border of Grand Teton National Park. Investigators are still seeking information from anyone in that area between Aug. 27 through Aug. 30 who may have seen the couple's vehicle or had contact with Petito or Laundrie.
Petito's family issued a statement through their attorney earlier Tuesday.
"I want to personally thank the press and news media for giving the Petito and Schmidt family time to grieve. We will be making a statement when Gabby is home," the family's attorney, Richard Benson Stafford, said a statement.
Petito's family was expected to be meeting with investigators today to find out how she died.
"We extend sincere condolences to Gabby’s family, friends, and all the people whose lives she touched," the FBI said in their statement. They thanked tipsters for their contributions.
More than a half dozen media outlets had gathered Tuesday morning along Adams Canyon Drive outside the Teton County Coroner's office, which had scheduled an autopsy today for the body found in the Spread Creek area on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
At the coroner's office on Tuesday, investigators were coming and going, loading items into vehicles, including one belonging to an FBI Evidence Response Team or ERT.
According to the FBI's website, ERT teams are "highly trained and equipped" to "operate at an exceptional level of competence to ensure evidence is collected in such a manner that it can be introduced in courts throughout the U.S. and the world. ERTs strive to be the model for crime scene processing from the standpoint of safety, expertise, training, equipment, and capability."
At 4:18 p.m. Sunday, Petito's father shared a photo of his daughter posing in front of an angel mural, the 22-year-old smiling and seemingly sprouting life-size, rainbow-colored wings.
“She touched the world,” Joseph Petito wrote in the post on the family’s Facebook page, Find Gabby.
Just minutes before, FBI in Grand Teton National Park had confirmed that human remains had been found in the search area, a zone where a hunter and at least two sets of travelers had seen the white Ford Transit van Petito and her boyfriend were driving.
On Monday, FBI agents searched the North Port, Florida, home of Brian Laundrie’s family. In the process, law enforcement officers removed his parents from the home and declared the house a crime scene.
Laundrie had been on a cross-country road trip with Petito but returned to his Florida home without her Sept. 1. Ten days later, her parents reported her missing, according to law enforcement. On Sept. 17, the attorney for Laundrie’s family contacted the FBI indicating they wanted to talk about their son’s disappearance. Laundrie’s parents told law enforcement they last saw their son Sept. 14.
On Monday, the FBI provided no details about their search of the Laundrie home by at least a dozen law enforcement officers, but agents removed several boxes and towed away a car that neighbors said was typically used by 23-year-old Brian Laundrie’s mother. Local media said Laundrie’s parents were seen getting into a police vehicle.
Laundrie and Petito had been living with his parents at the North Port home before starting their road trip.