ROCHELLE Humes accidentally video-called her husband Marvin’s DAD while nude in the bath in a mortifying lockdown blunder. The Saturdays star was chatting to close…
Last week, we got one of the most important pieces of the puzzle as Gabby Petito‘s autopsy results were revealed. Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue tried to keep it brief during his press conference, focusing on the major headline: the cause of death was listed officially as death by strangulation.
Specifically, as we learned later, it was marked down as manual strangulation/throttling. That told us even more — the killer used their bare hands, not any kind of implement. Due to Dr. Blue’s candor with Anderson Cooper, mentioning that thumbs were used, we even know it could not have been a chokehold — this was someone looking Gabby in the face and choking the life out of her.
It’s all chilling… but there may be even more that we didn’t catch. After all, like most people our expertise is limited to having watched a lot of SVU and Forensic Files; it wouldn’t exactly hold up in court.
But Professor Joseph Scott Morgan really is a forensic expert; he’s a former medical examiner who teaches the subject at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. And on the latest episode of News 4 NY’s The Debrief podcast, he gave us unsettling new insight into the small amount of information that was released.
Speaking to investigative reporter Pei-Sze Cheng, the Professor confirmed our interpretation of Dr. Blue’s revelation that this was a “throttling” death:
“When they say throttling, they’re talking about the application of two hands on this young woman’s throat. And most of the time in the classic sense, when you’re talking about throttling, it can happen either anteriorly — that means from the front — or posteriorly. We think about movies where some stranger walks up and they choke someone. But this isn’t the movies.”
“My opinion is that this is a face-to-face event. This is very intimate. Anytime you have an asphyxial death, it’s one of the most horrific things that can happen because there’s literally less than a foot of clearance between the perpetrator. would have looked her in the eye and as he’s literally squeezing the life out of her.”
This sounds like dramatic interpretation, but it’s actually important to the evidence. Why? Because of something else Dr. Blue mentioned: DNA.
Authorities mentioned finding DNA evidence, which stood out to the Professor because, as he put it, “you can’t just look at a body with the unaided eyes and say, ‘okay, there’s DNA evidence. I’m going to collect it.’” So what did they see? Morgan has a theory about that. Unraveling how he came to it, he said:
“You remember what I said about manual strangulation? It’s a very personal event. I mean, it is the most intimate of homicides that can occur. It’s a primal response to fight somebody off. If you’re being choked or being strangled.”
Someone being strangled would fight off their attacker — and get that person’s DNA on them! Morgan spelled it out:
“My thought is this. They have done nail scrapings and probably nail clippings. And if folks will essentially look down the long axis of their fingernail and you see how curved your fingernails are. Essentially when you scratch, that’s not just passive DNA, we’re not talking about sharing a space with somebody where his DNA gets on her and all that sort of thing. We’re talking about curled up skin, tissue, blood that’s protected beneath the nail. And that takes this up to another level. How’s the defense explain that away? How can they actually say, ‘for good reason she would have his tissue beneath her fingernails.’ That’s not something that would happen in the normal course of life, like touch DNA, where we slough skin cells and they fall away. That’s not what we’re talking about.”
Wow, so he thinks Gabby probably had her killer’s DNA under her fingernails! This line of thinking actually started for him that first day when the manner of death was revealed. He explained:
“The day that they did this autopsy, they couldn’t get out the door quick enough that afternoon to give us the manner of death. There’s five manners of death. And when they shot out of there, they specifically said, ‘This is a homicide.’ That’s very powerful, and I’ll tell you why. To rule something as a homicide — and the purest definition literally means ‘death at the hands of another’ — they saw something so glaring. Even though Gabby had been down three to four weeks, they were able that afternoon with no further testing to say, ‘this is a homicide.’”
Wow. That is a really important point.
Could Gabby really have her killer’s DNA on her? If so, it makes a lot of sense why the feds would charge Brian Laundrie with a smaller crime to get him in the door. They don’t have everyone’s DNA in a database yet to compare to — they would need to get hold of their main person of interest to compare his DNA.
Here’s hoping they’re able to bring him in soon no matter what the evidence. You can listen to the full episode of The Debrief HERE.
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