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Gabby Petito was a 22 year old vlogger, who’s tragic death was reported on September 21st. This was 10 days after she was reported missing. She was on a 4 month cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, when she disappeared. There is now an arrest warrant out for Laundrie, who refused to give any information about Gabby’s whereabouts before disappearing himself. The case became widespread through attention on social media, which may have helped with locating her body.

Laundrie and Petito appeared to be a happy couple in the eyes of the internet. Gabby was planning on documenting their road trip online. There are police reports of the couple being pulled over for a disorderly conduct stop on August 12th, where they appeared to be fighting. Gabby had been staying in contact with her family members all throughout her trip, and abruptly stopped around August 27th, when she was said to be in the Grand Tetons. Around that time, there were reports of Laundrie hitchhiking in that area alone, and on September 1st he returned home alone. When Petito’s family, and the police, reached out to Laundrie and his family for help, they refused to cooperate or give information about Gabby’s most recent location.

As the case gained national attention over social media, protests gathered outside of the Laundrie house. However, he wasn’t there to receive them, and his parents claimed they hadn’t seen him in days. On September 19th, remains of a body that could be Petito was found near the Grand Tetons, and on September 21st, the remains were confirmed to be Gabby’s. The death was ruled as homicide. Two days later, on September 23rd, an arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie, but he is still nowhere to be found. 

The case went viral, and the hashtag #GabbyPetito has more than 500 million tik tok views. People theorized about her disappearance and searched for clues online. Famous Youtubers, Kyle and Jenn Bethune, found evidence of Gabby’s van in the back of some of their footage, which may have helped locate Gabby’s body. Though widespread coverage can be a huge help to missing persons cases, it can also hinder them slightly, as police stations were flooded with tips about the case that did not pay off. Still, it is important to note that over 20,000 people are currently missing in the U.S., and the vast majority of these cases don’t get the coverage that Petito did. Petito’s story is a tragic one, but the media coverage that helped uncover her whereabouts can serve as an example of the media reaction missing people deserve.

Hi, I'm Liz Lagerback, a senior at Bucknell University who is loves to read and write! I'm majoring in Psychology and English, and am from Chanhassen, Minnesota.
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