GABBY Petito's last contact with her family came when she was just miles from the so-called "zone of death" — an area of remote wilderness where a legal loophole has led some to believe a murderer could get away scot-free there.
Petito — the 22-year-old Long Island native who remains missing after her fiancé Brian Laundrie hired an attorney and refused to cooperate with the police — last communicated with her family in Grand Teton National Park.
According to police, the vlogger is believed to have been in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming before her family last communicated with her during the final week of August.
Petito's family last received a text from Gabby on August 30, but they did not believe their daughter sent the message, their attorney Richard Stafford said.
As the investigation into Petito's whereabouts continues, social media users have pointed out that the missing young woman last contacted her family near America's "zone of death."
The area is where killers could potentially get away with murder — because it’s technically impossible for the government to give them a fair trial.
Although most of Yellowstone National Park falls into Wyoming State, some parts are located in Montana and Idaho — causing a loophole that could be exploited by criminals.
The zone of death is a 50-mile stretch of land in Yellowstone National Park.
Michigan State University law professor Brian C Kalt explains the area in his 2005 Georgetown Law Journal paper, known as The Perfect Crime.
Kalt implied that the park was fully assigned to Wyoming’s juridical district quarter despite it also being in Idaho and Montana.
"So unlike every other district, the district of Wyoming includes land in other states," he told VOX.
Read our Gabby Petito live blog for the very latest news and updates…
According to Kalt, if someone were to commit a crime in the Idaho portion of the park, police would bring the criminal to Cheyenne, Wyoming’s hub, because the crime happened within the district.
However, the US constitution says a trial is supposed to take place in the state where the crime allegedly took place. Therefore, the criminal could ask for a trial in Idaho.
"In the 6th Amendment, they said that they would require local juries. And the language they used is that the jury has to be from the state and district where the crime was committed," Kalt added.
The name of this is Vicinage Clause, and it suggests the jury would have to live in the small area of Idaho which overlaps with the Wyoming district.
But, as Prof Kalt explained: "Nobody lives there. There’s no way for them to give you a trial and so, I argue, they should have to let you go."
There could be a similar issue in the Montana part of the park but, unlike Idaho, a few dozen people do live there — meaning it should be possible to pull together a jury.
As Kalt's 2005 paper has taken the interest of people across the nation who remain curious as to where Petito could be, one social media user questioned in a tweet: "I’m curious if she’s in the so called “zone of death” in Yellowstone? Did he dump her and leave?"
Another wrote: "This #GabbyPetito situation is one of the most bizarre things. I can't believe her 'travel companion' isn't being dragged into a police station and questioned.
"Now I'm reading about a section of the country called the "Zone of Death" next to Yellowstone. WTF craziness."
According to Snopes: "To date, a crime committed in this region has not been brought forth in a court of law, and it is unlikely that prosecutors would forgo pursuing a case because of the disputed boundaries.
"In particular, it is not accurate to say that murder is legal in this zone, despite what some publications have reported."
The fact-checking website adds: "There is no legal precedent for criminal prosecutions in this area. As such, it is unknown exactly how a court proceeding might go."
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