It was supposed to be a cross-country road trip laid on the foundation of a blossoming romance. But just a few months after the road trip began, Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie are both dead.
Laundrie was the FBI's only person of interest named in Petito's manual strangulation in Wyoming, and as of yet, no further charges have been filed regarding the homicide. Nor has the FBI commented on what could be next.
But the questions lingering in many people’s minds are whether Laundrie killed Petito and if that could be proven.
Among the most seamless ways to prove homicide is DNA matching, but that would be complicated in this case because Petito’s body had been outside for weeks before she was found. Additionally, because Petito and Laundrie were romantically involved, it would make sense for his DNA to be on her.
According to the Associated Press, though, forensic experts have many techniques to solve crimes despite those obstacles.
“Reconstruction experts can do amazing things, so I would not be surprised if at some point we got a definitive, or near-definitive, conclusion that Laundrie was the killer,” Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University, told the AP.
Additionally, the existing circumstantial evidence, including Laundrie’s use of Petito’s credit card, could potentially lead to a near-conclusive analysis.
“That would be circumstantial evidence that points to him,” Alfredo Garcia, former dean at the St. Thomas University College of Law in Miami Gardens and a one-time Miami prosecutor, told the AP. “It’s a difficult proposition to establish but not impossible.”
Another question people are asking is whether Laundrie’s parents could be charged with obstruction of justice for hiding their son. But according to Garcia, that’s an unlikely scenario.
“That’s a steep hill to climb,” Garcia told the AP. “How can you establish they knew he committed the crime? Did they intentionally help him avoid detection and arrest? You have to establish knowledge and intent.”
In the meantime, the FBI investigation is continuing, though it is unlikely to lead to charges if Laundrie is indeed found to be the killer. Teton County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Clay Platt declined to talk about what could happen if Laundrie is found to be the killer, and he declined to speak about other aspects of the case. He did say that, typically, an investigation would be continued after a suspect dies, but charges are rarely filed and cases are usually closed.
Amid national pundits speculating what happened, internet detectives assuming what happened and law enforcement officers keeping their mouths shut, the actual facts of the case have occasionally become lost in the weeds.
Read the full story of how Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie's fates unfolded in the Oct. 27 News&Guide or online, and stay tuned to the Jackson Hole Daily for updates on the Wyoming homicide case as they become available.