Petito, 22 years old, was found murdered last month at the Wyoming border of Grand Teton National Park. This was one of the places Petito and Laundrie had visited on a cross-country van ride that saw them travel across the country. Laundrie returned home in the car alone to Florida.
Laundrie was named as a "person-of interest" in the case. His skeletal remains were discovered Wednesday in a swampy park close to his home.
This case attracted worldwide attention and many theories from amateur true-crime investigators. This case has brought attention to the many cases of missing persons involving women of color, which do not receive the same amount of attention as Petito, who is white.
These are some questions that remain:
CAN AUTHORITIES PROVE LAUNDRIE KILLED PETITO?
To answer this question, it could require a DNA match. Both sets of remains were exposed for several weeks to the elements and animals.
The FBI has yet to say whether any witnesses are available for Petito's murder or the immediate aftermath. Laundrie used a debit card that he didn't own after Petito was reported missing. This is one piece of evidence.
Alfredo Garcia, a former dean of the St. Thomas University College of Law Miami Gardens and one-time Miami prosecutor said that "that would be circumstantial evidence which points to him." It's not easy to prove, but it is possible.
Due to the fact that the couple lived in close quarters and were romantically involved, any DNA matching or fingerprint use would be difficult. However, forensic experts can still solve crimes using many methods despite these obstacles.
"Reconstruction experts can accomplish amazing things so I wouldn't be surprised if we get a definitive, near-definitive conclusion that Laundrie is the killer," stated Bob Jarvis, a Florida law professor at Nova Southeastern University.
WHY WAS THE LAUNDRIE SEARCH SO DISTANT?
Laundrie, 23 years old, was reported missing from North Port on September 17, just two days after Petito was identified as a person of concern in his disappearance.
According to his family, Laundrie told his parents that he left home on Sept. 13 and was going for a hike at the 25,000-acre (11,100-hectares) Carlton Reserve a few kilometers away.
The reserve was searched by federal, state, and local law enforcement officers for weeks. At one time, 75% of its land was under water. This area is home for alligators and bobcats as well as coyotes, snakes, and coyotes.
Divers and cadaver dogs were brought in but it was only after the heavy late-summer rainfalls stopped and the water receded, that Laundrie's remains as well as a backpack and notebook belonging he to his father were discovered.
Officials have yet to release the cause of death or say if any evidence or notes about Petito were found.
LAUNDRIE'S PARENTS ARE IN LEGAL TROUBLE
If the parents hide their son, they could be charged with obstruction of justice. However, it is not an easy case to prove. Legal experts agree. Petito's remains hadn't been discovered during his time at home.
Garcia stated, "That's a steep mountain to climb." How can you prove they knew he was guilty of the crime?" They helped him avoid arrest and detection. It is necessary to prove knowledge and intent.
Laundrie's parents did not give any interviews to media and initially referred law enforcement officials directly to Steven Bertolino, their attorney. He stated that the parents cooperated with investigators, and are heartbroken over the whole situation.
Laundrie refused to talk to police before he vanished, despite being advised by his lawyer.
UTAH POLICE WILL BE REPEATED
Police in Moab are currently reviewing the actions of officers after Petito and Laundrie got into a fight.
A police body-camera footage showed Petito, distraught, describing an altercation that escalated. According to a police report, she was the aggressor. However, her injuries were limited to a few scratches. The officers decided to seperate them for the night, rather than filing any charges.
It is now up to us to determine if the Moab officers followed their policy, and if so, whether this led to violence and Petito's death.
WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT "MISSING WHITE SYNDROME"?
The media focused on Petito's case, but little attention was paid to the many cases of missing persons involving women of color.
Particularly, Native American women are often overlooked by the media when they vanish.
According to a January state report, only 18% of missing women cases in Wyoming, where Petito was discovered, had received any media attention over the past ten years, according to a January report.
Carol Liebler, a Syracuse University communications professor, found that 34% of missing white teens were covered by media in New York and California. This compares with only 7% for Black teens and 14% for young Latinos.
She stated that "white lives matter more than those of color."
Joseph Petito, Petito's father said that the Gabby Petito Foundation was still in its infancy and will try to fill any gaps in the work of finding missing persons.
He said, "We need to find positive things from the tragedy that occurred." "We cannot let her name be forgotten."