Gabby Petito case captivates nation as thousands try to solve it themselves

Gabby Petito

SALT LAKE CITY – The Gabby Petito case is captivating the country with hundreds of thousands of people weighing in on social media eager to try and solve it themselves.

As the urgent manhunt for Brian Laundrie continues, the FBI is still asking the public for information, saying no detail is too small.

The power of social media is evident especially in cases like these where people are watching the events unfold in real-time. The fact that this couple is known for documenting their adventures on YouTube and Instagram only adds to this social media frenzy.

“I got to get home. It’s the first thing I do. I was on the treadmill, I was watching it on YouTube yesterday, it is just constant,” Joanne Ofiero said.

“We will spend hours just going through every little detail of the video,” Lauren Rodriguez said.

“I signed up for google alerts for both Brian and Gabby’s name, so that comes to my phone,” Amy Lukac said.

Gabby Petito is capturing the hearts of people across the country as her case continues to make headlines day after day.

“Brian Laundrie returning to Florida in Gabby’s car without Gabby. I think that just lit a firestorm, people were completely outraged, how could this even happen?” private investigator Jason Jensen said.

As authorities piece together information to figure out what happened to Gabby, so do people at home.

In this now-viral series of TikTok videos, Miranda Baker claims she saw Laundrie hitchhiking in Grand Teton National Park and gave him a ride. North Port Police telling ABC News they’ve spoken to her and that her timeline is plausible. 

“I’m hoping this can help someone identify him. He had told my boyfriend that he and his fiancé were doing a cross-country road trip and that she was back at their van at a campsite working for social media,” Miranda Baker said.

This comes after another Florida couple was documenting their travels through the Grand Teton National Park in late August and caught a glimpse of the white van while recording. Many people credit that video to police finding Gabby’s remains as quickly as they did.

“The Grand Tetons and all of the available camp space is so vast that it could’ve taken weeks to locate her body. But I believe the van in that video as it was depicted, which was within close proximity to where they ended up finding their body, so I believe they were related,” Jensen said.

Some are going a step further, dissecting that video of the van frame by frame.

“As soon as I saw that video of the door opening in the van I was like ‘okay this is not getting enough attention, somebody needs to post about this, somebody needs to know why it’s significant,” Lauren Rodriguez said about her TikTok video.

In less than 24 hours, her video received over 30,000 views.

Meanwhile a photo from Okaloosa County Florida which is seven and a half hours from North Port surfaced on social media Tuesday. 

The Sheriff has not ruled out that it could be Brian Laundrie but so far, they’ve searched the area and say they’ve found nothing.  

“I want that justice for them because it could’ve been any of us in a relationship like that,” Ofiero said.

“I am a survivor of domestic abuse, so this case…once the body camera video came out and I saw that video… it was honestly a little bit triggering. And I felt a little more emotionally attached to the case,” Emily Dixon said.

While Laundrie may be the only person who knows what happened to Gabby, many social media users are determined to get some answers.       

“Just the will and drive of people to spread the word about Gabby Petito and finding Brian Laundrie is just amazing,” Dixon said.

Authorities have received thousands of tips on this case and while they’re encouraged, law enforcement sometimes struggles to debunk false narratives before they go viral. However, the more tips and leads authorities get, the better chance this case will be solved.  

A private investigator told ABC 4 News one of the most important things investigators have to do when they get a tip is vetting the validity of the information.

This includes making sure the tip is coming from an eyewitness rather than a friend of a friend. Once they figure that out, they have to determine whether or not that person could be mistaken or if they’ve had enough interaction to know exactly who they’re referring to.

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