GABBY Petito’s autopsy likely showed “glaring” injuries and there remains a possibility she was neglected and starved if her relationship with Brian Laundrie was abusive, a forensic expert says.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Joseph Scott Morgan said it was “fascinating” the Teton County Coroner announced the manner of death as a homicide just two days after Gabby’s body was found last month.
He said that a coroner generally finds it easier to find the cause of death such as strangulation, gunshot, or medical emergency.
They then work from this to determine if the cause of death falls under homicide, suicide, natural death, accidental or undetermined.
“That's counterintuitive actually for what we do in my field,” Morgan, host of the podcast Body Bags, explained of the manner of death being released so soon.
“It's interesting that they came out with the manner first, that's the fascinating thing.
“Based on my career experience, I can say that they saw something glaring. They saw something glaring.”
Morgan, an Associate Professor of Applied Forensics with Jacksonville State University, noted that the coroner in Wyoming would likely take its time in releasing the final results as a national spotlight remains on Gabby’s case.
“I think that it's best, from certainly a scientific standpoint, to turn everything off,” he said.
“And I don't mean that just in a physical sense. I mean, don't read anything, don't listen to your spouse, don't listen to your friends, don't answer their questions.
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“There might be other evidentiary considerations and the waters are so muddied because of the time since death,” Morgan added of the time taken to complete the full autopsy.
“You want to consult with everybody that you can, that you have access to within the forensic community to say is there anything that we missed, is there anything else that we need in order to test further.
“Because the ultimate nightmare scenario is what if you hand the body over and the family has the remains cremated.”
It was announced on Monday that the full autopsy results will be released today by Dr. Brent Blue.
The full results should include the time and cause of Gabby’s death, putting an end to weeks of speculation about the timeline of her last moments and where her fiancé was
Morgan, who formerly worked as the Senior Investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner in Atlanta, believes that a cause of death will be found, even though Gabby’s body was likely in a state of decay after weeks spent in the outdoors.
“They stated the manner so quickly,” he said.
“That's not something that they would just do, you know.
“You don't have 22-year-old apparently healthy females just suddenly fall over dead.
“Even if you do, are you going to call it a homicide if you think that it's natural?”
Since Gabby was reported missing on September 11, and it emerged that Laundrie had returned to his parent’s home in Florida in her van but without her on September 1, online sleuths have probed the couple’s relationship for signs of abuse.
This only increased after bodycam footage emerged of cops in Moab, Utah, stopping the couple after receiving a domestic violence call on August 12.
Gabby is seen in the footage sobbing as she describes how Laundrie grabbed her face and told her to shut up as they argued in the street in Moab.
The couple was told to separate for the night but no charges were brought.
Laundrie reportedly also showed anger on the last day Gabby was seen in Wyoming on August 27.
She apologized to wait staff in The Merry Piglets Tex-Mex restaurant in Jackson after Laundrie reportedly argued with them.
The time of her death has been marked as between August 27 and August 30.
ALL INJURIES INVESTIGATED
“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.'”
Morgan said that if Gabby had suffered other injuries before her death, the coroner will be working to find them in the final results, and determine if there was previous bruising or if marks have come about due to decay.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“Is the muscle in such a state of decay that you would not be able to pick up on that?”
'DEPRIVATION & NEGLECT'
Yet Morgan speculates that there are other forms of abuse Gabby could have suffered apart from physical injuries.
“You cannot just have the abuse, you can have deprivation and neglect,” he claimed.
“Let's think about it here. They've been traveling about. Is there such a symmetry in this relationship where she's been deprived of food?”
However, if Gabby’s death does go to trial, a decomposed body could hinder any attempt to convict a suspect.
Morgan explains that a body being in decay when it is found can “make it more difficult.”
“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.
Morgan’s comments come after another criminal defense attorney said that there must have been “obvious someone else killed her” like that Gabby had a “broken neck, and was buried” if it was ruled a homicide so quickly.
In a discussion in the Gabby Petito subreddit, an attorney who was verified by the site wrote that “there was something about the way the body was” for them to announce it so quickly despite the fact the “body had been decomposing and subject to contaminating issues.”
“They know it wasn’t self-inflicted. They know it wasn’t a heart attack or a stroke,” another attorney added.
Gabby Petito’s autopsy results are expected in a press conference today at 2.30pm ET.
The search for Brian Laundrie continues after an arrest warrant was issued on September 24 for misuse of a bank card that wasn’t is.
A Petito family lawyer confirmed the card was Gabby's and was used after the dates it is believed she was killed.
Laundrie is a person of interest in Gabby’s death but has not been named as a suspect.
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