Gabby Petito case stuns the internet

Lucy Lyons, Staff Writer

In July 2021, Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, left for their four-month cross-country van trip. On Sept. 19, Petito’s remains were found in Grand Teton National Park. The entire internet wants to know: What happened to Petito?

From the beginning of their journey, Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23, regularly posted on social media through their blog, Youtube and Instagram. 

On Aug. 12, just a month into their vacation, a 911 call reported the couple in a physical confrontation. 

“We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl,”  an anonymous caller stated. 

After being pulled over in Moab, Utah, and an hour of investigation, police decided to separate the two for the night with Petito in the van and Laundrie in a nearby hotel. 

On Sept. 1, Laundrie returned to the house he shared with Petito and his parents, alone. Petito’s mother attempted to communicate with the Laundrie family and their recently hired attorney for days without response. On Sept. 11, she filed a missing persons report. 

This is when the irregular case first began to blow up on social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram. After seeing a TikTok about the case, Miranda Baker realized she had picked up Laundrie as a hitchhiker.

As the internet’s interest continued to grow, thousands of tips flooded the lines of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and local police tip lines. The hashtag “Gabby Petito” has accumulated over a billion views on the app TikTok alone. 

On Sept. 15, Laundrie was named a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance. Two days later, with the help of the internet, the FBI was able to locate Petito’s remains in Grand Teton National Park. 

When the FBI showed up at the Laundries’ residence to investigate on Sept. 17, Laundrie’s parents told police that they hadn’t seen their son in three days. FBI and local police spent more than 10 days searching the 25,000 acres of the nearby Carlton Reserve with no sightings. 

On Sept. 26, a memorial for Petito was held in Long Island, N.Y., with over a thousand attendants. With the national interest this case sparked, hope is not lost that Petito’s killer may still be found. 

The search for Laundrie continues, and as of Sept. 27, the infamous Dog the Bounty Hunter believed he may have had a lead on the missing man.