Famed Medical Examiner: FBI Decision to Hold Gabby Petito’s Remains ‘Very Unusual’

Memorials for Gabby Petito are scattered across her hometown of Blue Point, New York on Sept. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman)
AP Photo/Brittainy Newman

Former New York City medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden says the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) decision to withhold Gabby Petito’s remains from her family two weeks after her body’s discovery is “very unusual.”

Petito’s body was discovered by authorities near Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park on September 19th. Days later, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue stated his initial determination was the 22-year-old woman died by homicide, according to the FBI’s field office in Denver, Colorado.

Petito’s family reported her missing as she and her finance, Brian Laundrie, were traveling on a road trip across the U.S.

Fox News reports: “Rick Stafford, a spokesperson for Petito’s family, did not respond to requests on Monday and Tuesday regarding whether they finally had been reunited with the victim’s remains. Blue did not respond  to Fox News’ inquiry and the FBI declined to comment.”

“I think the FBI would be very cautious about things because they don’t want to make a mistake,” Dr. Baden, a Fox News contributor, said in an interview with the news network. “Whatever reasons they’re withholding, it is very unusual.”

“I think that the only reason would be, you’re concerned that you’re missing something, but that should not be a concern, because whatever is needed to investigate the death from the point of view of the medical examiner will be seen, documented and could be retained,” the longtime forensic pathologist continued.

In 2021,” he added, “where anything of value can be document[ed], retained, tested on day one or two or three, there’s no reason to keep the whole body from the family.”

A federal grand jury indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Wyoming alleges Brian Laundrie used a Capital One Bank card and someone’s personal identification number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges worth more than $1,000 during the period in which Petito went missing. It does not say who the card belonged to.

FBI spokeswoman Courtney Bernal declined to reveal the nature of the charges made to the debit card.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider said an arrest warrant issued over the alleged fraudulent use of the bank card will allow law enforcement across the country to continue pursuing Laundrie while the investigation continues into Petito’s homicide.

Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the 22-year-old woman’s death. The case has garnered enormous public interest — but also raised uncomfortable questions over the unequal attention given to the hundreds of cases of Native American and other minority women missing or murdered across the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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