The tragic story of Gabby Petito’s death has caused a news storm in the States. A 22-year-old American woman, Petito was a college graduate pursuing a career in social media. She and her fiancé and now suspect, Brian Laundrie, were taking a cross-country van trip, which Petito planned to vlog for her YouTube channel.
In July of 2021, Petito and Laundrie left New York for their four-month trip across the U.S., where they planned to visit national parks. They were going to sleep in their van.
On August 12, in Utah, a civilian called the police when he saw Laundrie and Petito in a heated argument. Police were dispatched and the van was pulled over. There is bodycam footage of Petito showing her flustered and upset, but ultimately the police let the couple go. They were asked to spend the night separated, so Laundrie checked into a hotel and Petito spent the night in their van by herself.
On August 19, Petito posted her first YouTube video detailing their trip. The video was entitled “van life,” and the clips showed a presumably happy couple. On August 25th, Petito made her last Instagram post before she disappeared.
Petito’s mother received what she described as a concerning text from Petito’s phone. The text read, “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.” The ‘Stan’ referred to in the text is Petito’s grandfather; however, her mother said she has never referred to him by his first name. The next text sent to Petito’s mother from Petito’s phone was on August 30th; it read, “no service in Yosemite.”
At this point, Petito’s family was concerned about their daughter’s whereabouts. The texts received from her phone were disconcerting, and they had not heard from Laundrie. On the first of September, Laundrie returned to his home in Florida. However, he was alone. About a week and a half later, Petito’s mother filed a missing person report in New York, after not hearing from her daughter since late August.
Petito’s family insists that Laundrie is a suspect in their daughter’s disappearance, while his parents stated that they will remain in the background of the case. Many believe that Laundrie’s parents should be considered suspects in the case as well. On the fifteenth of September, Laundrie was officially named a person of interest because he refused to cooperate with the police departments. At this moment, he is in hiding.
Protests now gather outside Laundrie’s house almost daily. His parents claim they have not seen their son in days. On September 19th, Petito’s remains were found in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming where the couple’s van had been previously spotted. It was released that her death was ruled a homicide. The FBI has now taken over the investigation, and the official search for Laundrie has begun.
Over 1,000 people attended a memorial service for Petito in Long Island, New York; thousands live-streamed the event online as well. Petito’s father announced the Gabby Petito Foundation, where money will help other families fund their search for missing girls.
As of the 28th of September, Laundrie is still missing. His parents made a statement urging their son to turn himself in to the police. However, it is now suspected that Laundrie and his parents passed through a campground together in the middle of September.
While his family remains quiet, the search for Laundrie continues. Anyone that may have information on his whereabouts is urged to contact the police as soon as possible.