By Lexy Cassell, Staff Writer
At the age of 22, YouTuber Gabby Petito was living out of her van, traveling the world with her fiance Brian Laundrie. The couple’s plan was a four-month road trip to sight-see and visit national parks throughout the country, all while Petito posted vlog content of the trip on her YouTube channel. The couple set off from Long Island, N.Y. on July 2, 2021. Petito posted to her Instagram and YouTube accounts numerous times while traveling. In July, she posted pictures from Kansas, Colorado and Utah.
On August 12, the couple was stopped in Utah by police following a witness report of an altercation between a couple. When Officers arrived at the scene, they found Petito crying and in a disoriented demeanor. Body cam footage was released to the public, where Petito said “Yeah, I don’t know if some days, I have really bad OCD. I was just cleaning and straightening up, back in the … I was apologizing to him and saying, “I’m sorry, that I’m so mean,” because sometimes I have OCD and sometimes I can get really frustrated.” Laundrie however, turns the story around onto Petito, claiming she scratched him, as he shows the officers his forearm.
On Aug. 27, witness Nina Angelo posted on her social media the couple arguing at a restaurant in Wyoming. This would be the last time the couple is seen together.
Aug. 30 was the last known day of communication from Petito. The last text, sent to Petito’s mother read “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls”.
According to Petito’s mother, the text message was a little suspicious, and led to confusion about the validity of it being her who sent the message. This is because Petito hadn’t called her grandfather–Stan–by his first name before.
On Sept.1, Laundrie returned home to North Port Florida, without Petito.
Petito was reported missing by her parents on Sept. 11. At that time, Laundrie’s parents had hired a lawyer and Laundrie refused to talk to the press about the case. It wasn’t until four days later, on Sept. 15, when Laundrie was named a person of interest. On Sept. 17, Laundrie’s parents reported him missing. On Sept. 18, searches for both Laundrie and Petito were conducted by the police. One day later, on Sept. 19, Petitos body was found. The cause of death is strangulation.
On Sept. 23, a warrant issued by the District Court of Wyoming, was made for Laundrie’s arrest, after he used Petitos debit card to withdraw a large amount of money from an ATM. On Oct. 20, human remains that resembled Laundrie were found in Florida. After dental testing, the remains were confirmed to be Laundrie. The cause of death determined by police is suicide. Laundrie shot himself in the head with a gun. Next to his remains was a notebook, and on Jan. 21, 2022, the notebook revealed that Laundrie murdered Petito.
Students at Post share their opinions of the case; Ejay Pegg , a theater major studying at Post, provides an interesting side to this case
Sophomore theatre major Ejay Pegg attended the same high school as Petito, and was shocked to hear about Petito’s death.
“It was all that my graduating class was talking about at the time,” Pegg said.
Pegg says that Petito is not the first murder case from their high school that blew up on social media.
“Newfield Highschool is infamous of another murder case that happened,” Pegg said.
On TikTok alone, #Gabbypetito has 1.9 billion views.
Sophomore criminal justice major Annabel Barlow thinks that the lack of police work during this investigation impacted Petito’s case immensely.
“There was a lot of criticism over what the police were doing and there definitely are some interesting points on that because I do believe the police didn’t have him labeled as a suspect as soon as he should have,” Barlow said.
Overall, cases like Petito’s highlight the impact that social media users have on investigations.