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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Trigger Warning: This article contains content related to homicide and domestic violence. Please read carefully and watch out for yourself. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

When quarantine started, I began to fall down the rabbit hole and enter into the world of true crime podcasts, documentaries, and even true crime and makeup videos combined. At first, I believed it to be a community full of people putting their noses into cases they didn’t need to participate in. But I suddenly became a part of the community and I myself turned into one of the internet sleuths that analyzes 911 calls and witness testimonies. I learned that all missing person cases need internet sleuths (to an extent) to raise awareness, help law enforcement solve cases, and to give voices to the voiceless. True crime junkie or not, here is why and what you need to know about the recent, ongoing investigation of the death of Gabby Petito. 

The Timeline

Gabby Petito was a 22-year old social media blogger, engaged to Brian Laundre. The couple decided to take a cross-country trip and have been traveling since late June. On August 15th, 2021 in Moab, Utah, there was a 911 call made to the local police. The police released the call and it said “the gentleman was slapping the girl.” The caller said they [the caller] stopped, and “they ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off.” Shortly after this call, two policemen approached the couple, and her fiance, Brian “ admitted to arguing and that Petito had slapped Laundrie.” In the police bodycam footage, Petito states that he did not hit her but she in fact, hit him. The last time Petito spoke to her mother was August 25th with a four-word text that read “no service in Yosemite.” This may not seem unusual at a first glance, however, the couple was in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, over 800 miles away from Yosemite National Park. On September 1st, Brian Laundrie came back from the trip without Petito and did not speak to her parents, who were frantically calling him and his family asking where she was. Ten days later, her parents reported her missing, and the search began through the Grand Teton National Park. During this search, Brian Laundrie has continued to be silent and refuses to speak to police about why he came home without Gabby and let her parents worry for 11 more days until they filed the missing person report. Fox News reported that “her family and loved ones became more and more agitated with no help from Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie, or his family.” 

Yesterday, the outcome that nobody wanted to occur. ABC reports saying, “Gabby Petito was killed by another person, a coroner concluded while also confirming that the human remains found recently at a Wyoming national park were those of the 22-year-old woman who disappeared months after she set out on a cross-country road trip.” Sending all the love and healing to everyone who was touched by Gabby Petito, may she get the justice she deserves. 

But why is this case more publicized than others?

All missing persons deserve equal amounts of television time and to have the FBI step in at the snap of a finger. This case is not only shocking to the public because of her influence on social media, but it is shocking to see how widespread this case is compared to others. Gabby Petito is not the only woman to have gone missing and even been murdered due to domestic violence. According to the L.A. Police Department, “During 1992 approximately 28 percent of female homicide victims (1,414 women) were known to have been killed by their husbands, former husbands or boyfriends.” The fact that Petito’s social media was filled with loving photos of her and Brian shows that domestic violence exists everywhere, even in the most loving and affectionate couples. 

But most of all, this case is frustrating to a lot of people because of the amount of attention it received in the media compared to others. Many women have gone missing but don’t receive media attention due to their sexuality, job professions like being a sex worker, and even their race. LA Times states “nearly 5,600 Native American women were reported missing, according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. The actual number, activists say, is probably much higher, in part because local authorities sometimes mistakenly list the victims as Latina or white. The reason this may be due to systemic racism towards indigenous people. Society, especially Internet sleuths, are obsessed with crimes against white women (take famous cases like the victims of Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper, and Jon Benet Ramsey). While these are incredibly tragic stories of beautiful lives taken at the hands of someone evil, the victims are all white females, deemed worthy of media attention and FBI intervention because of their status in society. Regardless of age, race, and job profession, all missing women deserve to have their names known and for the FBI to intervene at a moment’s notice. Gabby Petito deserved media attention and because of that, her family was given an answer and can continue the momentum with the investigation; however, every woman deserves the effort that was put into Gabby Petito. All life is precious.

Rest in Peace Gabby Petito. May you and your family find justice. 

Resources:

  1. Here is where you can see who is missing at the moment and familiarize yourself with their faces. 
  2. Turn on AMBER alerts and repost as many “Missing Person” fliers you are comfortable with.
  3. There are many ways to help with the Petito case, whether that be keeping an eye out, signing petitions or donating if a GoFundMe becomes available. 
Julia Stacks

CU Boulder '25

Hello! I am a brand new writer to Her Campus CU Boulder, I am a freshman majoring in psychology looking to become a forensic psychologist. I am excited to write for Her Campus and to share voices and stories :)
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