The Case of Gabby Petito

Sofia Basulto, Writer

The case of social media influencer, Gabby Petito, has been circulating in the news ever since her fans noticed her online presence begin to change. Gabby Petito and her fiance Brian Laundrie were active members of the hiking and van life community on social media, with over 1.2 million Instagram followers. 


On August 12th of this year, the police were called to the Laundrie household to follow up on a conflict Gabby and Brian had in which someone called 911 when he saw Brian hit Gabby. 


“We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl,” the caller stated (named unknown). 


Body camera footage shows that when they showed up, Petito was profusely crying. Regardless of the intense scene, they interviewed both parties separately. Petito told the officers that she is dealing with “severe anxiety and other medical conditions.” She then admitted to them that she and Laundrie had been fighting. After finishing discussions with both Petito and Laundrie, the two deputy sheriffs concluded that both of their stories had aligned. The pair had both claimed that it was Gabby who had hit Bryan. After deciding Gabby wasn’t trying to injure Bryan, they let them go. But under the circumstances that they were separated for the night, \with Laundrie going to a paid-for hotel, and Petito taking the van. The last known sighting of Gabby Petito was on August 24, only 12 days after the occurrence. Her mother Nichole Schmidt talked about their last phone call with ABC News,  “She sounded good and excited to continue her trip and excited to start her YouTube channel,”. For the family, it was odd how what was regular communication was unexpectedly cut off. Days later, on September 1st, Brian Laundrie went back to Florida, alone with Gabby’s van, and for days he and his family refused to say anything about Petito’s case. That was until Bryan Laundrie also went missing and the case was ruled an act of homicide. 


With such a big case, it leaves a lot of room for different interpretations of the case. One of the biggest and most believed theories behind the case is that Laundrie had something to do with Gabby’s disappearance and death. When discussing with my peers, Diego Tapanes, 10, found that there was a lot of inconsistencies in the story 


“I feel like they were fighting a week before, and they (the sheriffs) let them go back together which was weird,” Tapanes stated. 


When I asked his viewpoint of Laundries’ involvement in the case he stated that, “it is very obvious Bryan did it, especially because he ran away and is actually acting guilty.”  


After this story started to create a lot of press and popularity the conversation came to the discussion of is this another case of “Missing White Woman Syndrome?”. This led to my concluding question: Did this get more controversy and press because it’s an interesting story, or because she is a white woman?  “I feel like whether it was a woman of color or a white woman,” Tapanes started, “It’s still really crazy and messed up.”