Gabby Petito was a 22-year-old aspiring blogger who documented her life on different social media platforms. She was traveling through the United States visiting different national parks while living in a van with her fiancé Brian Laundrie, documenting this trip beginning in July and set to end on Halloween. Gabby already had a large following from her travels on Instagram and YouTube, but she attracted the world’s attention when she was reported missing in late August in the state of Wyoming. Since the day she has been missing, her fiancé Brian Laundrie has also not been seen and he is the main suspect for her murder.
After weeks of searching, Gabby Petito’s remains were found on Sep. 19 within Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming where she was declared a missing person weeks before. It is important to note that before she was declared missing, Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie were stopped by the police while traveling in their van as another traveler made a 911 call reporting signs of domestic abuse. They were questioned separately about the details of how a physical fight started in their vehicle.
After talking to both of them, the officers thought it was best that they were separated for the rest of the day to prevent further instances like this, but they did not realize this was more than just an argument. The body camera footage of the officers speaking with Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito was later released to the public. In the video when the couple is first pulled over, Gabby appears to be making the signal for help. This is a universal hand gesture to alert someone you feel threatened or are in danger without having to say anything in case the person harming you is close by.
Shortly after being stopped by the police, Gabby was not heard from for a few days according to her family and friends, which ultimately led her mother to report her as a missing person. Now that her remains have been found and the autopsy has been finished, it is clear that Gabby died by strangulation and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, is the main person of interest in her homicide. The official report lists her cause of death as “manual strangulation or throttling,” and it is believed that this happened at least three weeks prior to her body being discovered. This cause of death is extremely traumatic, but experts on domestic violence have spoken out that this attack as well as nonfatal strangulation is fairly common.
Gabby Petito’s case has opened a worldwide conversation about domestic violence and has brought awareness to the possibility of strangulation occurring within abusive relationships. According to the police and FBI, since there were previous reports regarding physically abusive behavior involving Brian Laundrie, he is being investigated but has not been charged with her murder.
We can only hope that others going through domestic violence are able to escape safely and for Gabby Petito to receive the justice she deserves.