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A coroner released the cause of death this week for the missing hiker found dead not far from where Gabby Petito’s remains were discovered in September.
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue confirmed to Oxygen.com that 46-year-old Robert “Bob” Lowery died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His death has been ruled a suicide.
Leigh Lowery told NBC’s “Dateline” that Lowery, a Houston-area father of two, had recently quit his real estate job then flown to Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Aug. 19.
Lowery had planned to camp in various locations before starting a new job. His family became concerned about his whereabouts when he stopped contacting his children. His body was discovered at the base of Teton Pass, Wyoming on Sept. 28 after a four-hour search by investigators, volunteers and specially-trained canines, according to the Teton County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office said Lowery was last seen on August 20. His body was found not far from where investigators would discover the remains of Petito, who disappeared at the end of August during a cross-country trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.
Investigators believe the intense media attention surrounding that case helped solve Lowery’s disappearance.
“The widespread news coverage of the Gabby Petito search helped bring light to Lowery’s case, and resulted in at least two members of the public calling local authorities this past weekend with new information about his possible last seen point,” the sheriff’s office said.
Witnesses reported seeing Lowery on Black Canyon Trail wearing a black baseball cap with a gold P and carrying a black Nike backpack. His sister, Leigh Lowery, said in a post on social media after the discovery of the body, that her brother left behind a 12-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son.
“Bob has been a wonderful father, son, brother and friend,” she wrote in another message from the family. “Our family wants to thank the news media and others involved in the search for our privacy at this difficult time.”
Petito’s body was discovered in Grand Teton National Park on Sept. 19. However, authorities believe the 22-year-old disappeared at the end of August.
Laundrie has been named a person of interest in the case but he disappeared in September after telling his family he was going hiking at a nature reserve in Florida.
Although Laundrie and Petito had been traveling across the country in a white converted camper van together, police said Laundrie returned home in the vehicle to Florida on Sept. 1. His family initially told authorities he disappeared on Sept. 14 after saying he planned to go hiking at Sarasota County’s Carlton Reserve, but their family attorney recently revised that timeline.
Steve Bertolino told local station WFLA that Chris and Roberta Laundrie now believe they last saw their son on Sept. 13 instead.
Although the parents have largely stayed out of the spotlight, Bertolino told Oxygen.com on Thursday that Chris Laundrie planned to contribute to the search for his missing son by pointing out his favorite trails or spots that the missing man may have used at the nature preserve in the past.
“Although Chris and Roberta Laundrie provided this information verbally [three] weeks ago, it is now thought that on-site assistance may be better. The preserve has been closed to the public and the Laundries as well but the parents have been cooperating since the search began,” he said in a statement.”
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