As a coroner performed an autopsy on the remains, in a bid to formally identify them and to try and determine a cause of death, officials also opened up the spread creek campsite, about 20 miles of Jackson, where the body was found.
As they did, journalists found the cross, fashioned from 18 pebbles, most of them grey but one of them notably pink, in a riverbed, apparently close to where the remains had been.
Dotted all around were red paint spray markers, on rocks and trees, of the type sometimes used by the police when marking points during a search.
There was no word from the authorities on who had created the cross, be it a police officer of member of the park ranger service, as a memorial to the young woman, after the remains were found.
There was also speculation it could have been left by Brian Laundrie, who has been named as a person of interest in the case, and is currently being searched by police after he went missing last week.
Police have repeatedly stressed that at this stage they have no evidence of a crime, and no charges have been brought. Neither the FBI, or lawyers for Mr Laudrie’s family, or the family of Ms Petito responded to inquiries from The Independent.
The cross was located about four miles from US Route 191, the main road between Jackson and Yellowstone. The spread creek campsite is one of several known to have been used by Ms Petito and Mr Laundrie during their trips to visit the national parks of America’s west.
Another family travelling the nation in a van, Jenn and Kyle Bethune, posted footage that showed the white Ford Transit van being used by Ms Petito and Mr Laundrie parked it he spread creek dispersed campsite on August 27. They passed the video to the FBI, who said information from members of the public such as the Bethunes had been crucial in helping locate her.
Already the campsite, and the cross, was attracting visitors on Tuesday.
Sarah Gerritzman was on vacation from Seattle and said she wanted to see the campsite.
“It is very sad,” she said.
“But I wonder if there has been too much media coverage of this one case. There are lots of instances of Black women going missing, and they barely make the news.”