/ 21 September 2021

All that glitters ends in tragedy

Image source: Instagram
Image source: Instagram

If you looked at an American news site in the last 24 hours, chances are you saw something about the possible death of a social media influencer – and that continues this morning. That’s because yesterday authorities said they believe they have found the body of 22yo Gabby Petito in a National Park in Wyoming. At the end of last month, she went missing while on a cross-country van trip with her fiance Brian Laundrie. He returned to Florida without her, refused to speak with police, and has gone to ground. The body’s identity is yet to be confirmed, and the FBI said a cause of death has yet to be determined.

Petito and Laundrie were travelling the country together in a van, documenting their idyllic adventures in a YouTube series called ‘VAN LIFE’ for thousands of subscribers. But after a month of travelling, Laundrie returned home to Florida on 1 September with their van – but without Petito. After not being able to get in touch with her, Petito’s family reported her missing on 11 September, and Laundrie was labelled a person of interest in her disappearance. He refused to speak to authorities and disappeared last week. Also coming to light was footage from Utah police who pulled the couple’s van over in mid-August. Officers described them as having “engaged in some sort of altercation”.

Police are still searching for answers… and Laundrie. They say the public’s response has been “remarkable” with the case blowing up on social media and people coming forward with tips. On TikTok, the #gabbypetito hashtag has been viewed more than 212 million times, and users have been posting updates and sharing new theories around the clock. As for Petito’s family, a representative thanked authorities for their “tireless work and determination” to find her. Petito’s father yesterday said his daughter “touched the world”.

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