Gabby Petito case: Brian Laundrie died of self-inflicted gunshot wound, anthropologist determines

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Brian Laundrie died of self-inflicted gunshot wound: Anthropologist
David Novarro with more on Brian Laundrie's suicide, whose remains were found more than a month after the death of his fiancé Gabby Petito.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Brian Laundrie, whose remains were found in a Florida preserve more than a month after the death of his fiance Gabby Petito, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, family attorney Steve Bertolino said Tuesday.

The cause of death came from an anthropologist who received Laundrie's remains after an autopsy by the Sarasota County medical examiner did not produce concrete results.

"Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide," Bertolino said. "Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families."

RELATED | Gabby Petito timeline: Everything we know about the case

Gabby Petito was traveling with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, in a cargo van the two had outfitted as a makeshift recreational vehicle for a months-long cross-country road trip when she mysteriously disappeared.

Petito, 22, was discovered slain in September on the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, one of the places the young couple had visited on the trip they documented through social media videos.

The case garnered national attention as police and the families initially sought Petito and then Laundrie as well after his disappearance.

An autopsy in Wyoming concluded Petito died by strangulation and that it was a homicide.

"The Schmidt and Petito family has been aware of the circumstances surrounding the suicide of the sole suspect in Gabby's murder," the family's attorney said after the suicide determination. "Gabby's family will not be making a statement at this time due to the request of the United States Attorney's Office and the Teton County Prosecutor's Office. The family was asked to not make any comments and let the FBI continue their investigation. The family was also asked to wait for the United States Attorney's Office to make a determination on whether any additional individuals will be charged. When that determination is made, we will have a statement."

Laundrie, 23, was listed as a "person of interest" in her killing but he was charged only with fraudulent use of a debit card.

His remains were found in a nature preserve not far from his family's home in North Port, Florida, where both he and Petito had been living.

Both were originally from Blue Point on Long Island.

Laundrie returned home alone Sept. 1 from his trip with Petito.

Her body was found Sept. 19 in the Wyoming park and authorities say it had been there for about a month.

Laundrie told his parents Sept. 13 he was headed to the Carlton Reserve park in Sarasota County.

That was the last publicly known contact anyone had with him.

RELATED | Laundrie family says they will not hold funeral for Brian

Brian Laundrie's skeletal remains were given to a forensic anthropologist to determine the cause of death.

The couple first met as teenagers but gained an online following while on their trip in a converted Ford Transit van in videos filled with happy scenes that may have concealed deeper problems.

After Petito disappeared, the case became a true-crime obsession on social media.

The couple was stopped Aug. 12 by police in Moab, Utah, after they had a physical altercation, but no domestic violence charges were filed.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

WATCH: Tracking the Gabby Petito disappearance
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ABC News uses social media, police reports and public records to piece together some of the events that led up to Gabby Petito disappearance.

The video above is a part of TRACKING, a digital video series from ABC News that uses social media, public records, mapping and expert analysis to piece together timelines of how major news events transpired. Watch more ABC News originals here.


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