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Domestic violence survivor on Gabby Petito video: ‘I see myself in that girl’

A survivor of domestic violence who spoke with News4Jax on a condition of anonymity recalled video of Petito, who was explaining the situation to an officer. "I recognize myself in that girl. You can see the fear in her face, she was taking the blame on herself," she said. The woman says she was in an abusive relationship for a year.
A survivor of domestic violence who spoke with News4Jax on a condition of anonymity recalled video of Petito, who was explaining the situation to an officer. "I recognize myself in that girl. You can see the fear in her face, she was taking the blame on herself," she said. The woman says she was in an abusive relationship for a year.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Wyoming coroner, where the body of Gabby Petito was discovered, revealed Tuesday that the 22-year-old was strangled.

During a news conference, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue also revealed that Petito died three to four weeks before her body was found Sept. 19 near an undeveloped camping area.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the announcement would lead to additional charges against Petito’s boyfriend and traveling partner, Brian Laundrie, is considered a person of interest in her disappearance and remains unaccounted for.

Petito and Laundrie posted online about their trip in a white Ford Transit van converted into a camper. They got into a physical altercation in August in Moab, Utah, that led to a police stop, which ended with police deciding to separate the quarreling couple for the night. No charges were filed, and no serious injuries were reported.

Petito is heard apologizing several times, and Laundrie is heard saying “she gets worked up sometimes.”

Bodycam: Gabby Petito argued with boyfriend before vanishing

A survivor of domestic violence who spoke with News4Jax on a condition of anonymity recalled video of Petito, who was explaining the situation to an officer.

“I recognize myself in that girl. You can see the fear in her face, she was taking the blame on herself,” she said.

The woman says she was in an abusive relationship for a year.

“He would punch holes in the wall, break items, damage things he knew were important to me,” she recalled of her relationship. “One of the things I always got was you’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough.”

She said she didn’t know she was in an abusive relationship at first.

“I didn’t think of myself as a victim of domestic violence because I wasn’t experiencing physical abuse,” she said. ”When you see the person you had children with punching holes in the wall, you’re, thinking oh, I need to appease this person, I don’t want him to hurt me or my children.”

She said she got out of the relationship and got help from the Quigley House.

If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domestic violence or abuse, there are resources available:

  • The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline, which will direct you to the nearest shelter, is 1-800-500-1119
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24 hours a day. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE
  • The Micah’s Place (Nassau County) Domestic Violence Help Hotline is 904-225-9979
  • The Hubbard House in Jacksonville can be reached by dialing 904-354-3114
  • The Betty Griffin Center in St. Johns County can be reached at 904-824-1555
  • The Quigley House in Clay County can be reached at 904-284-0061

Investigators have searched for Laundrie in Florida and also searched his parents’ home in North Port, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Sarasota.

Federal officials in Wyoming last month charged Laundrie with unauthorized use of a debit card, alleging he 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. They did not say to whom the card belonged.

Asked about the coroner’s determination, the attorney for the Laundrie family, Steven Bertolino, in a statement noted his client only faces the fraud charge in the case.

“At this time Brian is still missing and when he is located we will address the fraud charge pending against him,” Bertolino said.


About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.