Gabby Petito investigators received over 1,000 tips from YouTubers, TikTokers and online sleuths
Gabby Petito’s disappearance has prompted action by a vast network of online detectives and social media users, all searching for clues in an attempt to trace the movements of the missing 22-year-old.
Petito, from New York, was reported missing on September 11 and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie – who fled to Florida on September 1 – was reported missing on September 14.
Its whereabouts are unknown.
She was last seen on August 24 leaving a Utah hotel and spoke to her apparently happy mother the next day.
Gabby Petito was last seen on August 24 and was reported missing on September 11. Brian Laundrie, her boyfriend, arrived in Florida alone on September 1 and went missing, reported missing by his parents on September 14.
Petito, 22, is seen with Laundrie in a July 4, 2001 message from Monument Rocks. Her post is captioned: “Cutting our lives down to fit in that tiny little van was the best decision we’ve ever made. With the limited space, we wanted to take advantage of every square inch, while keeping everything minimalist. I really felt inspired by a lot of other #vanlifers on @youtube but we came up with a completely original layout. Barely spent anything on the conversion and couldn’t be happier with the result. #vantour to come! Sacrificing space to wake up in nature every day has not been a sacrifice at all. Road trip across the country with @gabspetito ‘
Petito is pictured July 26 at Mystic Hot Springs, which she visited with Laundrie
The FBI in Denver began calling for help on September 16, tweeting: “UPDATE: #FBI is working with our partners from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson Police Department, @NatlParkService and other state and local law enforcement agencies across the country in the investigation into the disappearance of Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Petito. #FindGabby. ‘
On September 18, they tweeted a map, with specific details of the search area.
Since then, social media sleuths have taken off – on TikTok, the hashtag #gabbypetito has been viewed over 212 million times.
Josh Taylor, spokesperson for North Port Police in the hometown of Laundrie, Florida, said on Friday they had received more than 1,000 tips.
In Victor, Idaho – a tourist town directly across from Jackson, Wyoming – a shopkeeper told her local newspaper, Eastern Idaho News, that she had seen the couple on August 25 or 26.
“Brian and Gabby came to Rustic Row,” said the shopkeeper.
“They told me they were from Florida. They had just just gone to Teton Park and they said they were interested in going to Yellowstone and I told them they could go to the west entrance.
“They seemed happy and when they left she screamed from the door that they were engaged and then I said my congratulations.”
A shopkeeper in Victor, Idaho (pictured) said she saw the couple in the city on August 25 or 26.
Jenn and Kyle Bethune believe they saw Petito’s van on August 27 and noticed his plates
Petito made his last Instagram post on August 25.
On August 27, the van in which Petito and Laundrie were traveling was seen on August 27, around 6 p.m.
YouTubers Jenn and Kyle Bethune said on Sunday they noticed it when they reviewed their footage.
“We came across a white pickup truck that had Florida license plates,” Jenn Bethune said.
‘A small white van. We were going to stop and say hello because we are also from Florida, but the van was completely dark. There was no one there, so we decided to continue on our way.
Petito’s family, on their Find Gabby Facebook page, thanked eagle-eyed online spotters for spotting the van.
“Thank you very much, that’s exactly why we ask people to review older photos and videos,” they wrote.
And on August 29, a TikTok user named Miranda Baker drove Laundrie away, she claimed.
Miranda Baker (pictured) believes she and her boyfriend took Laundrie while he was hitchhiking on August 29
She said she and her boyfriend picked him up in Grand Teton, Laundrie telling them he “needed to go to Jackson,” where they were heading.
But about 20 minutes later, she mentioned “Jackson Hole” and he allegedly asked to come out.
“Once I said Jackson Hole he got restless,” she said in one of the videos.
Brian Laundrie was flown from Grand Teton on August 29, according to Miranda Baker, who said he had become “nervous” and “weird”
“It looked like he needed to get out, he was a little nervous. And this is where things got weird.
She said they let him out near Jackson’s roadblock and watched him cross the street and enter a crowded parking lot nearby, presumably to try to continue hitchhiking.
“I hope this can help someone identify him because I saw him from TikTok, which then made me call the authorities,” she said.
Analysts said part of the social media world’s fascination with the case is due to Petito and Laundrie having lived their lives in the public eye, filming a blog of their travels.
Another reason is the obsession with real crime podcasts and TV shows, and Petito’s disappearance played out like a script.
“You have this beautiful young couple, supposedly in love, having this romantic adventure across the country, and then something goes very wrong,” said Scott Bonn, a criminologist who studies why certain crimes become cultural touchstones. .
He said The Washington Post that Petito’s appearance and skin color probably increased the level of fascination.
“It’s about our culture and our society,” he said. “We give priority to whiteness. We prioritize youth and our expectations of physical beauty. ‘
Petito and Laundrie had known each other since high school and had been dating for several years
The couple had been traveling across the country together since July 2, when they left New York City. Petito was reported missing on September 11
Experts said the high-profile nature of the case likely helped investigators – even though there were pitfalls to avoid and unfounded conspiracy theories inevitable.
Michael Alcazar, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and retired New York Police Department detective Michael Alcazar, told the newspaper that public advice can be critical.
“Most agencies don’t have that many detectives to call for witnesses, to call for any kind of evidence,” he said.
“Now we have so many eyes out there, millions of civilian investigators, because now they’re on the lookout. It’s a bit like an Amber Alert, but more effective.