The missing influencer

Alannah Hipps

More stories from Alannah Hipps

NFL (Taylor’s Version)
October 31, 2023

What started out as a road trip around the country ended as a national news story when Gabby Petito’s family reported her missing on Sept. 11.  

Gabby Petito, a popular social media influencer, and Brian Laundrie, her fiancé, started their trip across the country in a van in July of 2021. The engaged couple visited national parks and documented their experience on YouTube and Instagram 

On Aug. 12, Police pulled the couple over after they got a call reporting Laundrie hitting Petito; however, released body cam footage shows Petito taking all of the blame for the abuse and Laundrie claiming she was “crazy.” The two were separated, with Petito staying in the van while Laundrie went to a hotel, but they later reunited and continued their trip. This caused a lot of debate on social media with some believing the officers could have stopped what happened, while others thinking that they did their job and could not have known what was going to happen in the future.  

“I think the police did their job and did their best by separating them,” Makhenna Knight, sophomore, said.  

Everything seemed to go back to normal, as the couple posted a YouTube video on Aug. 19 containing clips of them laughing. A few weeks later, Petito’s mom received an odd text message from Petito stating, “Can you help Stan, I just keep getting his voicemails and missed calls.” She thought that it was concerning because it did not sound like Petito at all.  

“Stan is Gabby’s grandfather, but her mother says Gabby never referred to him by his first name,” Chris Harris, author of a PEOPLE articlesaid.  

Despite barely hearing from her, Petito’s family still believed that she was traveling with her fiancé. This all changed when Laundrie came home without Petito on Sept. 1. Ten days later, Petito’s family reported her missing, and with police forces all over the country searching for her, they located the body near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sept. 19. They confirmed it was her on Sept. 21, and they held a memorial service on Sept. 26 at Long Island, New York. Over 1,000 people attended, and the service was live streamed. Recently, reports announced that Petito died by strangulation. 

“Services for our sweet Gabby will be held at Moloney Funeral Home in Holbrook on Sunday September 26th from 12pm-5pm. Thanks to all for your support and love,” Joseph Petito, Petito’s father, said in a tweet. 

Meanwhile, Laundrie refused to tell anyone what happened to Petito and was on the run while being the biggest suspect in the case. After searching for more than a month, police found Laundrie’s remains at a nature reserve in Florida on Oct. 20 with the cause of his death unknown.  

“A comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve and Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are those of Brian Laundrie,” the FBI said in an article 

Since then, Petito’s parents have created the Gabby Petito Foundation to raise awareness for victims of domestic violence and support families of missing persons. Click here to donate.