Expert maps hurdles in autopsy on Gabby’s presumed remains

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Expert maps hurdles in autopsy on Gabby's presumed remains

The autopsy planned to be performed Tuesday on the apparent remains of Gabby Petito will likely not provide quick and easy answers in determining the time and cause of death, according to one expert.

Medical examiners were scheduled to conduct an autopsy on the body found in Wyoming on Sunday to determine if it is the 22-year-old Long Island native whose disappearance has made worldwide headlines.

Petito’s supposed remains were discovered in a remote area of Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming — as law enforcement authorities continue the search for her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who has been named a “person of interest.”

Dr. Brent Blue, the Teton County coroner, has told The Post that no preliminary findings or positive identification have yet been made on the remains.

Teton County, WY Coroner seen backing the unmarked truck with the body of Gabby Petito into the Teton County WY Coroner building.
The Teton County, Wyoming coroner was seen backing the unmarked truck with the body of Gabby Petito into the Teton County Coroner building.
Richards / BACKGRID

On Tuesday, forensic pathologist Dr. Priya Banerjee explained during an appearance on “Fox & Friends First” the possible challenges in determining the time and cause of death after the amount of time that has elapsed.

“I would still approach this case like any other suspicious death, take fingernails, hair, any sort of sexual assault kit,” the expert said on the show, Fox News reported. “You just never know what can be found with further testing.

“Then even with decomposition, sometimes the bugs found on the body and other tissue changes can even tell you help you along the lines for dating — bugs, soil elements that can actually, if a forensic entomologist gets involved, they can work backwards to try to deduce a better timeline for when she was killed,” Banerjee continued.

Gabby Petito at Bryce Canyon National Park on July 21
Gabby Petito at Bryce Canyon National Park on July 21, 2021.
Instagram

But given the amount of time that has passed, the forensic pathologist is worried that “everything’s going to not look like it’s supposed to be.”

“That [decomposition] can change not only the color of tissues, but it could potentially even hide surface defects,” she explained.

“Once we get inside, hopefully they can see, you know, remnants of blood discoloration, whatever else, bone trauma should be readily identified.

“The first thing to consider is that if we think about when she was last communicated with in late August, that leads quite a bit of time for her to be deceased and for the body to decompose,” Banerjee added. “So that’s going to make things a little bit more challenging.”

The doctor noted that to determine the cause of death, pathologists will have to “really dive in” and use “extra analysis, if you will, not only toxicology, potentially needing a forensic anthropologist, if bone traumas there, depending on the condition of the body.”

Blue, the Teton County coroner, said all additional information would be released by the FBI.

Petito was on a cross-country trip with Laundrie, 23, when she disappeared late last month.

Memorial is set up in the area where remains believed to belong to Gabby Petito were found on Sunday in Spread Creek
A memorial set up in the area where remains believed to belong to Gabby Petito were found in Spread Creek, Wyoming.
Derek Shook / BACKGRID

She last made contact with family on Aug. 30, two days before Laundrie returned home to Florida without her on Sept. 1, retained a lawyer and refused to cooperate with authorities.

Laundrie has since gone missing after his family told police he went for a hike in the 25,000-acre Carlton Reserve last week and never returned.

On Monday, FBI agents and local police executed a search warrant at Laundrie’s parents’ home in North Port.

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