Written by Jack Miller
Over recent weeks, particularly over social media, hashtags like #justiceforgabby or #whereisgabby began cropping up as a peculiar case started to gain traction throughout the country. Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old, was reported missing following a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. The road trip, which took place earlier in July this year, involved the couple leaving from Long Island, NY. On the first of September, Laundrie returned to his and Petito’s home in Florida alone with the van.
The case was immediately taken up by Gabby’s family and Petito herself was reported as missing. Police began to interview Laundrie, who at this point was their number one suspect. Early in the investigation, police from the couple’s county in Florida reported that Laundrie was refusing to cooperate in their search of the missing woman. This immediately prompted suspicion and after police got in contact with other precincts nationwide, they began to make crucial inroads into this case.
On August 12th, a month prior to Laundries’ arrival back in Florida, police from Moab County, Utah had received a 911 domestic call from Petito’s phone. When police responded to the scene, they reported that Petito had allegedly hit Laundrie with her phone, who then locked her out of their car, no charges were filed at that time. This bodycam footage, which was released following Laundries’ unwillingness to cooperate with investigators, depicts Petito crying while talking to police.
Luckily, with much thanks due to Instagram, and pictures documented by Petito throughout the road trip, police were able to construct a somewhat accurate map of where the couple had traveled. The last photo posted by Petito was from Ogden, Utah on August 25. Petito’s parents testified that they were continuing to receive texts from her phone until August 30 in which Petito texted her mother claiming she had no service from Yosemite Park in California.
On September 17th, police reported that Laundrie had been missing and the case was turned over to the FBI. Two days later, on the 19th, authorities recovered what is believed to be Gabby Petito’s remains from Bridger-Teton National Park in Wyoming, which has been confirmed by Petito’s stepfather. The couple had been documented visiting this park earlier in their trip. As of right now, Laundrie is still at large in Florida with the FBI possessing a warrant for his arrest.
As this truly traumatic and horrifying case continues to unfold, and the Petito family works to find closure, it is important to remain vigilant regarding domestic abuse and dating violence. If you or anyone you know is in a possibly dangerous domestic abuse situation, call 1-800-799-7233 for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or 1-800-838-8238 in Virginia. Visit thehotline.org for more resources to further understand and help prevent situations of domestic abuse.