A Wyoming coroner announced on Tuesday that Gabby Petito's cause of death was strangulation.
Her fiancé, Brian Laundrie - a person of interest in the case - hasn't been charged in her death.
An expert said that may be because officials can't interview him if they bring more serious charges.
The investigation into Gabby Petito's death has seen numerous developments in recent weeks, including a coroner's determination that she was strangled to death, but her fiancé Brian Laundrie's status as a person of interest in the case hasn't changed.
A criminal-justice expert told Insider that's likely because it would be easier for authorities to interview Laundrie if they arrest him on a warrant for his activities following Petito's death, rather than on more serious charges.
Laundrie returned to Florida from a cross-country road trip without Petito on September 1, and her mother reported her missing on September 11. Police initially named Laundrie a person of interest in her disappearance, and the case was upgraded to a criminal investigation after Petito's body was found in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park on September 21.
Laundrie himself has been missing since September 14. On September 23, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie that alleged he spent at least $1,000 using an "unauthorized" Capital One debit card in the days following Petito's death.
Ralph Cilento, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said he believed police hadn't charged Laundrie in Petito's death because then he would have the absolute right to counsel, or the guaranteed right to an attorney appointed by a judge.
Laundrie isn't guaranteed that same right if arrested on the bank-card-fraud charge alone, Cilento said.
"The reason why they did it for that and not the homicide is because if you swear a warrant out for him for homicide -and you indict him for that - you can't talk to him if absolute right to counsel attaches," Cilento said.
Cilento speculated that it's possible that authorities have enough evidence to charge Laundrie in connection with Petito's death, but he said it would be easier for them to interview him if he's arrested for bank-card fraud.
He also characterized the debit-card-fraud charge as a "tactical decision" that makes it easier for authorities to track Laundrie, since his name would show up in police databases as a wanted person.
"They need to have him wanted, so they are tracking him as a fugitive instead of just a missing person," Cilento said.
Read the original article on Insider