The news confirms the family's worst fears. They are still awaiting news on her fiancé, who refused to cooperate with the investigation and later went missing.
For weeks, loved ones waited for an update on what really happened to Gabrielle 'Gabby' Petito before she went missing. On Tuesday, Gabby's family received a devastating update that confirmed their worst fears.
The FBI announced that the human remains found in a national park in Wyoming were confirmed to be those of 22-year-old Gabby. In addition to this, a coroner confirmed that the manner of her death was a homicide.
"Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed the remains are those of Gabrielle Venora Petito, date of birth March 19, 1999," the FBI Denver division said in a statement, as quoted by NBC News. "Coroner Blue's initial determination for the manner of death is homicide."
At the moment, the search continues to find Gabby's fiancé, Brian Laundrie. Before Gabby's body was found, authorities spent days hunting for her and had absolutely no cooperation from Brian through it all. After refusing to help, Brian was later reported missing by his family on September 17, and he still remains a person of interest in Gabby's death.
Michael Schneider, special agent in charge of the FBI's Denver office, said that they are working to ensure that anyone involved in Petito's death "is held accountable for their actions."
"Mr. Brian Laundrie has been named a person of interest," Schneider added. "Anyone with information concerning Mr. Laundrie's role in this matter or his current whereabouts should contact the FBI."
In the days that led up to Gabby going missing, she and Brian were on a four-month cross-country journey. And Gabby's family believes that tension was growing between the couple.
Gabby and Brian began traveling from New York on July 2, and they toured through Florida, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah in the following weeks. However, her family believes that the couple's relationship was under strain as they continued road-tripping in Gabby's white 2012 Ford Transit van, according to ABC7.
Every now and then, Gabby would send text messages to her mother, Nichole Schmidt. And these conversations gave Nichole the impression that there was "more and more tension between her and Laundrie," according to a police affidavit, as quoted by CNN.
On August 30, Nichole received the very last text message from Gabby's phone. "No service in Yosemite," was all that the message said, and Nichole isn't even sure if it was actually written by her daughter.
Another incident that indicated possible strain in their relationship was when the police found Brian and Gabby having an "altercation" in Moab, Utah.
A 911 caller informed the police of their fight and said: "The gentleman was slapping the girl. Then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off."
When the police later had an encounter with the couple, they found Brian with scratches on his arms, face, and neck, as reported by ABC7. However, no charges were pressed against either of them because "both the male and female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn't wish to see anyone charged with a crime," according to a report from Officer Eric Pratt.
Currently, the police are urging people to come forward with any information that might help in finding out what happened to Gabby before her remains were found.
Officials are still waiting for the final autopsy to determine the exact cause of Gabby's death.
Cover image source: (L) GoFundMe and (R) North Port Police Department