Officers pulled over the van Laundrie and Petito were traveling in on their cross-country trip and Petito told officers that she initially slapped Laundrie before he retaliated.
“I guess, but I hit him first,” Petito said when asked by an officer if Laundrie hit her in the face.
“Where did he hit you? Don’t worry. Just be honest,” the officer asked.
“Well, he grabbed my face,” Petito said.
“Did he slap your face? Or what?” the officer responded.
“Well like, yeah he grabbed me with his nail, and I guess that’s why I definitely have a cut right here because I can feel it when I touch it, it burns,” she said, while holding her jaw and crying.
The video then shows Laundrie recanting his side of the incident.
“She gets really worked up, and when she does she swings, and she had her cellphone in her hand, so I was just trying to push her away,” Laundrie said.
The Parker & McConkie law firm, which represents Petito’s parents in the lawsuit, also shared a selfie taken by Gabby in which she appears to have blood, swelling and visible marks on her face just prior to the traffic stop. On October 12, 2021, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue — who performed an autopsy on Petito — announced her death was ruled as a death by strangulation and the manner of death to be a homicide during a press conference.
Laundrie, the lone person of interest in connection to Petito’s disappearance and death, was discovered weeks later at the Carlton Reserve campsite near his family’s Florida home and confirmed to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, his family’s attorney, Steve Bertolino, confirmed to TMZ. Dr. Blue said Petito’s death is believed to have occurred 3-4 weeks prior to her remains being found on September 19, 2021 and confirmed to match her days later.
Dr. Blue confirmed the ruling was made while working alongside local and federal authorities. No other information will be released in adherence with state law. Laundrie was the center of a publicized search by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local authorities at the Carlton Reserve prior to his remains being discovered.
Police later confirmed that a confession letter written by Laundrie was also found. Petito’s parents had previously been rewarded $3 million in relation to a wrongful death lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents in November 2022, CNN reported at the time.