What We Know About Gabby Petito

To say that the world has been captivated by the tragic disappearance and death of Gabby Petito is an understatement. The 22-year-old — who had posted #vanlife lifestyle and travel content online — went missing during a cross country trip with her fiancé, 23-year-old Brian Laundrie, in late August 2021 and was officially reported missing by her family on September 11, 2021. While hundreds of people go missing every year, Petito's case captured the attention of the world, and with the power of social media, many took to apps and platforms to share what they knew of her disappearance. Petito's name became international known overnight, capturing the hearts of parents, siblings, and friends in the process.

Tragically, a body was discovered on September 19, 2021, and the remains were confirmed to be that of Petito. Her boyfriend, Laundrie, was named a person of interest before he himself disappeared and, as of publication, his whereabouts are still unknown. It's a case that made the world stop turning, as many — from her family and friends to strangers on the internet — are looking for answers. This is what we know about Gabby Petito and her tragic disappearance and death.

Gabby Petito appeared to be an aspiring influencer before she went missing

Like a number of young women eager to share their lives with the world, Gabby Petito took to social media to share her #vanlife lifestyle, her travel content, and her happy smile. As noted by The New York Times, Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, set out on a van trip in July 2021, and planned to share sights and experiences from the journey on social media, mainly Instagram and YouTube.

Petito had reportedly been working a pharmacy technician job in order to put money aside for the trip in question, which, of course, she was taking with Laundrie (whom she had met while attending Bayport-Blue Point High School in Long Island, New York), as noted by The New York Times. Tracking back through Petito's Instagram, she shared that turning her Ford van into a camper "was such an adventure in itself," and she couldn't wait to get out on the road. The couple set off, and traveled from Colorado to Utah, and stopped in the scenic Zion National Park, according to her social media activity.

Gabby lived with her boyfriend and his parents before the cross-country trip

While attention has been placed on Brian Laundrie and his parents since Gabby Petito's disappearance, some may not know that the couple had been living at the Laundrie family home for over a year before they set out on their trip together. As noted by ABC News, Petito and Brian had been living with Christopher and Roberta Laundrie in North Port, Florida, for some time, and it was later confirmed by North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison that the young couple had plans to take Petito's vehicle on their cross-country excursion. 

According to the New York Post, Christopher and Roberta live in a 1,448-square-foot home, and their home also serves as the headquarters of their business, Juice Services Inc. The New York Post noted that the couple sell and repair vegetable juicers, and their son also worked in the organic juice industry. Before moving to Florida, the Laundrie family lived in Bayport, Long Island, New York, where they reportedly operated a vending machine business. The family's line of business may have impacted Petito's professional life, as well, as she told police officers in Moab, Utah that she worked as a nutritionist.

In August 2021, police were called to address a domestic dispute between Gabby and her fiancé

Information about Gabby Petito came to light over time. As noted by ABC News, a concerned citizen called 911 on August 12, 2021, after he reportedly saw a "domestic dispute" take place between Petito and Brian Laundrie in Moab, Utah. "We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl," the caller said. "And then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and drove off." 

Petito and Laundrie were pulled over by Moab police, and the released body camera footage showed Petito crying. Despite the tension, there was "insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges," according to Moab Police Department Chief Bret Edge. At the time, Petito told the officers that she was suffering from "severe anxiety and other medical conditions," details that were "redacted from the police report." Petito also told officers that she and Laundrie had been arguing, and as such, the incident was marked as a "mental/emotional break," not a domestic assault matter (via ABC News).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Gabby Petito uploaded her last video to YouTube on August 19

As Gabby Petito was keen on sharing her travels with the world, her Instagram pointed to a young couple having fun on the road together. But August 19, 2021 marked the last day that Petito posted on YouTube, and while her Instagram remained active for a few more days, questions over the authenticity of the posts have been raised. Some believe that Brian Laundrie was posing as Petito on social media, as noted by The U.S. Sun.

But the YouTube video in question showed a happy couple traveling through the sunshine and natural beauty while on the road. As noted by BBC News, the vlog-style video showed Petito and Laundrie "smiling, kissing and running on beaches," and as of publication, the video has been watched more than 4.8 million times. Many have taken to the comment section of the YouTube video to comment on the tragedy and to send their condolences to Petito's family, with one YouTube user writing, "It's so sad she didn't get to finish out her dream of being apart of the Van life community and traveling to other beautiful places she wanted to see."

Gabby Petito was last seen alive on August 24, 2021

Ever since it was announced that Gabby Petito was a missing person on September 11, 2021, it seems as though people have been working backwards in order to put a timeline together of her movements and whereabouts. Her parents, of course, had some insight into where their daughter was, and Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, told ABC News that she last spoke to her daughter on August 25, 2021. Petito told her mom that she and Laundrie were about to head out of Utah and had the goal of reaching Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. "She sounded good and excited to continue her trip and excited to start her YouTube channel," Schmidt tearfully recounted to ABC News. "She seemed [okay]." 

After their last interaction over the phone, things did start to unravel. Schmidt told CBS News New York that she typically spoke to Petito three times a week while her daughter was out on the road, but that habit ceased after August 25 (via BBC News). After her disappearance, police said that the last time Petito was seen alive was when she was checking out of a Salt Lake City, Utah hotel.

Gabby's parents are unsure of who sent them messages from her phone

Gabby Petito's YouTube activity ceased on August 19, 2021, and her parents heard from her via a video call on August 24, 2021, according to BBC News. But after that call, Petito's communication style suddenly shifted, according to her mom, putting into question Petito's safety between August 24 and August 30, 2021. As noted by the BBC, Petito sent an "odd text" to her mom about her grandfather, which, according to Nicole Schmidt, seemed "out of character" for her daughter. The message contained no information about the trip or her whereabouts, according to ABC News, nor did it contain any pictures from the location in which Petito and Brian Laundrie were at the time. 

Petito's parents heard from her phone again via text message on August 30, 2021, with the following: "No service in Yosemite." Communication "abruptly stopped" after that, and in the time since, Schmidt has called into question if Petito was the one who actually sent the two offbeat messages. In an application for a search warrant since the communication stopped, authorities noted that the communication style "seemed to show mounting tension" between Petito and Laundrie.

Gabby Petito's fiancé was reportedly picked up alone while hitchhiking on August 29

In attempts across many media outlets to curate a timeline of events that led to the tragic death of Gabby Petito, people who crossed paths with the 22-year-old and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, have come forward with their accounts. Namely, Miranda Baker told ABC's "Good Morning America" that she picked up Laundrie on August 29, 2021, when he was out hitchhiking alone in Wyoming — this was four days after Petito spoke on the phone with her family members. 

Baker recounted that Laundrie had told her that he'd been on a solo camping trip, while his girlfriend was in their van working on their social media output. Baker informed Laundrie once he was in the car that she was on route to Jackson Hole, and he eventually left the vehicle. "He got out ... he was thankful and he was kind of in a hurry," Baker said, as noted by ABC7 News. "He said he was going to go across the street into the parking lot and find someone else to give him a ride, but, when we looked back 10 or 15 seconds after he got out of the vehicle he was just gone." Laundrie returned to Florida on September 1, 2021; Petito was not with him (via CBS News).

Gabby was reported missing 10 days after her fiancé returned to Florida without her

As aforementioned, Brian Laundrie returned to Florida on September 1, 2021, without his fiancée, Gabby Petito. Ten days later, on September 11, 2021, Gabby's family officially filed a missing persons report, as confirmed by the North Port Police Department (via The New York Times). Desperation for information regarding Gabby's whereabouts started to hit social media, and her father, Joseph Petito, took to Twitter to ask for any and all information regarding his daughter's wellbeing. 

"Hello world, I am Gabby Petito's dad," Joseph shared on the social media platform. "Please help me find her. She is missing and we need everyone else to find her. Please keep sharing and praying." 

According to ABC News, Laundrie's potential involvement in Gabby's disappearance had yet to be formally announced by authorities, but the Petito family's attorney, Richard Stafford, made it clear that Laundrie was not a friend to the family. "Every day the search for Gabby continues the ... Petito family becomes more desperate," Stafford announced. "They are frantically searching for answers and information in their daughter's disappearance while Brian sits in the comfort of his home."

Gabby's fiancé was named a person of interest in the case

As time went on and answers surrounding Gabby Petito's whereabouts remained unanswered, her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, was named a person of interest by authorities investigating the case. As noted by ABC News, Laundrie announced through legal representation that he would remain silent on the topic, as was the advice that his legal counsel had given him. 

"This is understandably an extremely difficult time for both the Petito family and the Laundrie family," Laundrie's attorney, Steven Bertolino, announced in a statement, noting, "On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family. On the advice of counsel the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment." 

Bertolino explained that, due to his experience in legal proceedings, it was not surprising to him that Laundrie was the first person to be suspected of involvement in Petito's disappearance, as romantic partners are often pointed to. "The warning that 'any statement made will be used against you' is true," Bertolino said.

Social media mobilized to try to piece Gabby Petito's story together

An aspect of Gabby Petito's disappearance and tragic death that separates the case from others is the way in which social media mobilized to get sought-after answers. As noted by The New York Times, Petito's case became "a national sensation" overnight, largely due to the fact that people were watching information come to light in real time. Specifically, users on TikTok began analyzing footage, Petito's social media activity, and other clues they could get their hands on to piece the puzzle together — one such user was Paris Campbell, a writer and comedian, who took to social media to help comb through Petito's story. 

Campbell's efforts started when she posted a video on TikTok that featured a missing poster of Petito. She said in the quick clip, "Screenshot it, share this," adding, "This girl is actively missing." Over the course of a couple days, Campbell shared roughly 40 TikTok videos that analyzed Petito's case, shared updates, and kept up with the news. Petito's cousin even made it to Campbell's page, and thanked the social media user for her efforts. The Gabby Petito tag on TikTok has roughly 1.2 billion views, as of publication.

Gabby Petito's fiancé hasn't been seen since September 14

While Brian Laundrie returned to Florida on September 1, 2021, and was recommended by his legal counsel to stay silent on the matter of Gabby Petito's disappearance, he was named a person of interest in the investigation on September 15, 2021 (via ABC News). A police statement at the time revealed that Laundrie "has not made himself available to be interviewed by investigators or has provided any helpful details." Of course, now we know that Laundrie reportedly took off on September 14, the day before he was named in the investigation, according to his parents. 

As noted by The New York Times, Laundrie's parents told police that they hadn't seen their son since the 14th, and according to ABC News, Laundrie left their home with a backpack and announced that he would be going to the Carlton Reserve, not far from their house in North Port, Florida. ABC News also noted that Laundrie has been officially reported missing by his family members. "All of Gabby's family want the world to know that Brian is not missing, he is hiding. Gabby is missing," the Petito family's lawyer said at the time.

Remains were found in a remote area in Wyoming eight days after Gabby was reported missing

Remains believed to be Gabby Petito's were found in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, as confirmed by the FBI. As noted by The New York Times, the remains were found on the eastern terrain of the park, in an area that Petito's family said was her next destination that they were aware of. The specific site in which Petito's supposed remains were found (as it took time to accurately identify the body) was the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area, located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. 

The New York Times noted the remoteness of the area, including that, while "millions of visitors" come to the park each year to experience the lakes, mountains, and trails, the forest itself is still fairly remote. The camping area in which Petito was found in is not "a developed campground facility," meaning that it does not receive the same maintenance and services (like trash removal and water supply) that most campgrounds are equipped with. When the news broke that a body — most likely that of Petito — was found, her father took to Twitter with a simple message: "She touched the world."

Gabby Petito's death was officially ruled a homicide by the FBI

Shortly after remains suspected to be that of Gabby Petito were found in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the FBI confirmed that the body was in fact the 22-year-old. As noted by The New York Times, the positive identification was made and it was determined that her death was a homicide. The remains were transported to Teton County Coroner's Officer. Additional forensic examinations were then made to confirm Petito's identity and to investigate the manner in which she died. As of publication, further details surrounding Petito's death have not yet been released, pending the final autopsy's results. 

Michael Schneider, a special FBI agent in charge in Denver, announced in a statement at the time that any and all individuals involved in Petito's death would be investigated, but as of this writing, no suspect is in custody. "The FBI and our partners remain dedicated to ensuring anyone responsible for or complicit in Ms. Petito's death is held accountable for their actions," Schneider said after the positive identification was made. According to NBC News, Schneider then turned his focus to Brian Laundrie, and urged anyone with information about his whereabouts to come forward.

As of publication, Brian Laundrie is still unaccounted for

Brian Laundrie, the person of interest in Gabby Petito's disappearance and murder, is unaccounted for, as of publication. His parents have maintained that they haven't seen him since September 14, 2021, and as noted by CNN, police are conducting a vast search for him in the Florida area. Specifically, authorities are searching the Carlton Reserve — which is made up of 25,000 acres of natural reserve land — for Laundrie, and investigators are even employing underwater recovery teams to locate him. Police are also utilizing drones to capture video surveillance, and are using the scent from some of Laundrie's clothes so bloodhounds can hopefully guide them to his whereabouts. 

"Please be aware, the Carlton Reserve is a vast and unforgiving location at times. It is currently (waist) deep in water in many areas," police said of the search. "This is dangerous work for the search crews as they are wading through gator and snake infested swamps and flooded hiking and biking trails." So why has Laundrie evaded police thus far? CNN noted that he's not only had a multiple-day head start, but he has not been charged with any crime, making it impossible for police to pursue anything other than a search warrant at this time.

If you or anyone you know has information regarding Petito's death or Laundrie's whereabouts, the FBI is encouraging people to call its tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).