The Tragedy of Gabby Petito


Lauren Murray, Staff reporter

On September 11th, 2021, 22-year-old Gabby Petito was reported missing by her mother. A couple months earlier, Gabby departed on a cross country trip across the United States with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. Her mother said she kept constant contact with the family, until one day the contact suddenly stopped. Furthermore, Gabby’s social media posts abruptly halted.

Gabby and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, had both quit their jobs over the summer to travel the country, a dream they both had. They documented their adventures on her Instagram and a shared YOUTUBE channel. Aspiring social media influencers, the couple presented themselves as happy on the surface, but there were deeper underlying issues.

On August 12, 2021, a domestic abuse report was made to a local police station from a campsite in Moab, Utah for a “physical altercation”. When the police arrived on the scene, they separately integrated the couple. Both parties agreed that the altercation was mutually caused. The police cam shows a tearful and scared Gabby. Laundrie claimed that she often gets tearful because of her anxiety. The couple was released from custody; however, on August 17, they were seen in another altercation at the campsite by fellow travelers.

Sometime during the last week of August, Petito’s social media and contact with her family went dark. The last text sent to her mother read “no service,” but her mother doubts that was sent by Gabby.  Also, around this time, a Tiktoker named Miranda Baker claims to have driven Brian from Colt Valley, WY to Jackson River. Baker says he mentioned a fiancée who had a travel blog.

On September 1st, 2021 Brain arrived at his parents’ Florida home without Gabby. While in Florida, Laundrie didn’t seem to mention or worry about Gabby. Brian left his parents’ house on September 6th to go camping, though he didn’t report any sort of location. At some point, he came back to his parents’ house, but they claim they haven’t seen him since September 14th. On September 18th, a search for Brian began, and he was declared the main suspect in the disappearance of Gabby.

After being missing for over a week, human remains were found in Teton, Wyoming that “fit the description” of Petito.  Two days later it was confirmed that Gabby Petito’s cause of death was strangulation. The search for Brian continued for weeks, but to no avail.  Until, Police found human remains and Brian’s backpack on a hiking trail in Florida on October 20th.  The next day, the body was confirmed to be Brian’s.

We may never know exactly what happened to Gabby, but there are a lot of theories.  The most accepted theory is that Gabby was killed by her boyfriend Brian. Some people think this is a case of domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as a pattern or cycle in a relationship used to control another party. There are a lot of signs that people in toxic relationships use to cry for help. Davis Stiles (12), the sponsor of Help Save the Next Girl at HVHS says, “Gabby could have been calling for help on the police cam footage, but no one did anything.” Unfortunately, domestic violence and abuse is a common factor in 15% of all crimes in the US.  However, sadly, a majority of these events go unreported. It is hard for many women and men to speak up about abuse in the household, because the victims often blame themselves.

When asked about defending yourself from possible domestic abuse, Natalie McGrath (10) said, “I’m not sure if I could defend myself if I was attacked like Gabby.”

Some ways to lower the amount of domestic violence cases in this country are teaching young women and men how to defend themselves, the signs of impending domestic abuse, and how to tell people proactively what is happing to them. We also as a society need to listen and not judge when someone is asking for help.

Unfortunately, we can’t save Gabby Petito, a young woman taken from this world too soon, but if we listen and become proactive, we can prevent something like this from happening to another.