A FORENSIC expert has said it could be hard to prosecute the killer due to the decomposition of Gabby Petito's remains as the cause of death of the 22-year-old vlogger is revealed.
The Teton County coroner's office on Tuesday announced that Gabby died by homicide from manual strangulation or throttling.
Dr Brent Blue said that he could reveal no further details about the remains but he could confirm that Gabby's body was outdoors for three to four weeks before it was found on September 19.
He would not comment on the state of the remains when they were found and if there was heavy decomposition of the body.
Dr Blue would also not comment on Gabby's missing fiance Brian Laundrie and if he will be named as a suspect.
Laundrie, 23, is currently a person of interest after going back to Florida alone on September 1 and then disappearing just two days after Gabby's family reported her missing on September 11.
As per Wyoming law, only the cause and manner of death are revealed to the public by the coroner from autopsy results.
Yet Joseph Scott Morgan, an Associate Professor of Applied Forensics with Jacksonville State University, exclusively told The Sun that if Gabby's case goes to trial, decay of her remains will be an important factor.
“If this thing were to ever go to trial, this case were to ever go to trial, that's a mark against the prosecution and a mark for the defense,” he explained.
He added that it would "make it more difficult" to use evidence from the autopsy.
Read our Gabby Petito live blog for the very latest news and updates…
It comes as the state of decay causes difficulties for the coroner in deciding if something could potentially be an injury suffered by Gabby as she was killed.
Morgan told The Sun that the coroner would potentially take into account the body cam video from August 12 which shows Gabby telling cops Laundrie grabbed her face as he tried to get her to be quiet during an argument.
The Moab, Utah, police department has been criticized for the handling of a 911 call that claimed Laundrie was seen hitting Gabby.
After they were stopped, the cops decided that Gabby was the aggressor and decided not to press charges.
Instead, the couple was told to separate for the night and allowed to continue on with their cross-country trip.
Gabby was last seen alive two weeks later.
Morgan, who hosts the podcast Body Bags, has also been questioned about bruises Gabby appears to have on her arms in earlier pictures in which she and Laundrie were surfing on sand dunes.
He said that while it would be "difficult" to identify earlier bruising if Gabby's remains were decomposed, it wasn't out of the question.
"You have to take care in what you're doing and be very exact," he said.
“Our body has a fantastic way of healing, but you can have overlying or overlapping injuries, where it'll be at a different point in time in the healing process.
“You have some evidence, at least admittedly on the Moab tape, that they've been quarreling.
“So, for me, I'm going to say: ‘Well, I'm going to dig a little bit deeper.’
“The trick of all of this is to try to differentiate, and it can be difficult to differentiate between pre-existing injury and the compositional artifact," Morgan continued.
“Is the muscle in such a state of decay that you would not be able to pick up on that?”
“This is a scary case,” Morgan said of watching the bodycam footage.
“I have a daughter that was her age and you just want to reach through the screen and go back in time and say, 'come with me. It's going to be okay. I'm going to protect you.'”
AUTOPSY DETAILS REVEALED
Morgan previously told The Sun that Gabby must have had "glaring" injuries for her death to be ruled a homicide so quickly.
In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Dr Blue said that Gabby's predicted death was three to four weeks before her body was found.
The body was outside "in the wilderness" for this time, he added.
The doctor also confirmed that Gabby Petito was not pregnant at the time of her death and that a toxicology report was unable to be released at this time.
Following the autopsy, the young woman's body was returned to the mortuary who are dealing with the family at this time, the doctor said.
Dr Blue declined to say more about the autopsy or the case overall, saying he was prevented by Wyoming law that limits what coroners can release.
Shortly before the press conference, a private investigator claimed that Gabby may have been strangled to death based on her body language in police bodycam footage.
Jason Jensen, a Salt Lake City-based investigator, believed the vlogger’s cause of death could be asphyxiation.
He referred to Gabby’s body language while she was being quizzed by cops on August 12.
The search for Brian Laundrie continues after an arrest warrant was issued on September 24 as a grand jury charged him with misusing Gabby's bank card.
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