Forensic pathologist: Autopsy to provide key details into Gabby Petito case

Authorities are hoping to obtain answers in the headline-grabbing disappearance of 22-year-old Gabby Petito, and according to forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, autopsy results will soon reveal whether “any signs of violence” were present on a body recently found in Grand Teton National Park suspected to be that of the missing woman, as Fox News reports.

During an appearance Monday on Fox & Friends, Baden stated that the examination of the remains found in the area where Petito was last believed to have been seen “should tell us whether there were any signs of violence or if possibly the death is natural or if they need to toxicology to find out of there’s any medication or drugs involved.”

Though not personally involved in the case, Baden provided his take on the status of the investigation into Petito’s disappearance as well as of her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, with whom she had embarked on a cross-country road trip in a converted van earlier this summer and who has also now been reported missing after having returned home alone earlier this month.

“I think that police are treating this as if it were a homicide. They may have a lot more information than we have,” said Baden, adding, “But the autopsy will find if there’s any violence, if there’s any injury. Now, because an injury, a blunt force injury, is it a fall, is it because she was struck with a rock or something? They can tell that from the autopsy.”

Shedding additional light on what types of bodily harm the anticipated autopsy would be able to uncover, Baden declared, “The kind of concern that a medical examiner would have here is a possibility of neck compression or strangulation as being one of the things to be looked for. But another thing to be looked for is, could it be an overdose of a drug that was taken unwittingly or intentionally?”

As CBS News reported, Teton County Coroner Brent Blue indicated that the autopsy on the body suspected of belonging to Petito was slated to occur on Tuesday, and that while most such procedures take between one and two hours, there may be additional data needed in this case that would extend the expected completion time.

The outlet added that law enforcement authorities are still on the hunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve area of Florida, one week after he was reported missing by members of his own family.

Indications of trouble between the couple came to light well before Petito’s reported disappearance, when Moab, Utah police were summoned to a domestic abuse call back in August, though after interviewing both parties, officers deemed the episode a “mental health break,” and neither Petito nor Laundrie wished to press charges over what took place.

Considering that it was almost immediately reported that the body discovered in Grand Teton does indeed match Petito’s description, and Laundrie has been nowhere to be found for at least a week after declining to provide information to police, it appears all but certain that this story is one destined to end in tragedy for all involved.