The missing case of Gabby Petito

Gabby Petito’s body has been recovered, but this case is far from solved

Gabby Petito, 22-year-old adventure seeker, was pronounced dead by cause of strangulation after having disappeared in early September. The Gabby Petito case has captivated the country and has been an ongoing investigation for the past two months. Rumors and speculation have been going around as to why she went missing, what was the motive for her murder, and where her boyfriend fled to after he was under suspision as a person of interest for her murder. 

As of today, none of these questions have been answered.  Each week new information and leads come forth that provide valuable information.

This case dates all the way back to June of 2021 when Gabby and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie set off on a cross-country RV trip. They were on their way to the West Coast to visit famous national parks in the West. Gabby was keeping frequent contact with her family and updating them as she and Brian went through the various national parks. Little did they know that Aug. 30, 2021 would be the last time they heard from Gabby. Prior to this, there were events through August that show that Laundrie and Petito had an abusive relationship. On Aug. 12, 2021, police officers from Moab, Utah reported a domestic altercation with Petito and Laundrie. The couple had a physical fight following an argument that they had and were told to separate for the night. 

On Aug. 17, Laundrie flew from Salt Lake City, Utah to Tampa Bay, Florida to get some supplies and close a storage unit. He then flew back to Utah to rejoin Petito. 

Another altercation was reported later, stating that on Aug. 27 in Jackson, Wyoming, Petito and Laundrie were having a verbal argument and that Petito was in tears. 

Witnesses have since come forward to provide some insight as to what was going on during this last week. A woman and her boyfriend told authorities that on Aug. 29, they had given Laundrie a ride in Wyoming. He told them that he was hiking in Colter Bay, Wyoming and going camping by himself for a couple of days while Petito worked on her social media.

On Sep. 1, 2021, Laundrie drove back to North Port, Florida in Petito’s white van, but Petito was nowhere to be seen. 

Her family reported her missing to Suffolk County Police in New York on Sep. 11,2021. 

The police then went to speak to Brian and the Laundrie family, but they were reluctant to speak to the authorities and gave them the information for their attorney. 

After days of pleading from the Petito family and the police, the Laundrie family spoke to the police and said that they didn’t know where Brain was. This then launched a manhunt for Laundrie and Petito. 

Authorities searched for Brian  in a nearby nature reserve that was close to the Laundrie family home  to try to get answers to the whereabouts of Petito. While police were searching for Laundrie in Florida, police went to Utah to look for Petito. 

It wasn’t until Sep. 19 that human remains matching the description of Petito were found. On Sep. 21 they were identified as those of Petito. 

Since then authorities have been looking for Laundrie to get answers about the death of Petito. 

An autopsy report of Petito’s remains on Oct. 12 revealed that she had died of strangulation. Police have not yet directly named Laundrie as a suspect. 

This case highlights the dangers of abusive relationships. People in abusive relationships might struggle to see how manipulative or abusive their partner can be since they don’t see it from an outsider’s perspective.

When speaking to the Tarleton Police Department, Assistant Chief of Police Mark Hukel gave some insight on how students of Tarleton can be safe on campus.

“Stay in groups when possible. When on foot, especially at night, use well lit, main paths to and from buildings or parking lots. If you’re walking on campus and feel unsafe, call for an escort through Control 254-968-9265. Avoid people who are in unusual areas or seem to be waiting somewhere without purpose. If invited to hang out with people you don’t know, take a friend,” Hukel said. 

There are many on-campus resources for students that feel threatened in their relationships. 

“If you are being abused or threatened, report it to the police. You also may contact the Title IX office and/or campus counseling services,” Hukel stated.

Tarleton, as well as many other college campuses offer discrete methods for students to report domestic abuse as well as programs that aid in victim recovery.

“Thankfully, over the past several years awareness concerning domestic violence and dating violence has increased in the college setting. Erath County just this year created a Domestic Violence High Risk Team to address the issue,” Hukel said. 

For more information go to https://suffolkpd.org/Home.aspx. For safety services offered by Tarleton PD, go to https://www.tarleton.edu/police/services.html