The Gabby Petito case has really picked up steam lately. The FBI is making huge strides towards uncovering the mysteries surrounding everything. Petito’s disappearance spurred people online and social media users to help, with the FBI reportedly receiving thousands of tips before discovering human remains on Sunday.
The FBI in Denver began appealing for help on September 16, bringing attention to the case with the #FindGabby hashtag. “UPDATE: The #FBI is working with our partners in the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson Police Department, the @NatlParkService and other state & local law enforcement agencies across the country in the investigation of Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito’s disappearance. #FindGabby”
That tweet spurred a plethora of online sleuths to help in any way they could. On TikTok alone, the Gabby Petito hashtag #gabbypetito has been viewed more than 212 million times. A spokesperson for North Port police Josh Taylor said on Friday they received more than one thousand tips.
How Social Media Users Helped the FBI
The FBI’s social media pleas seem to have paid off in spades. In Victor, Idaho, a shopkeeper told East Idaho News she had seen the couple on August 25 or 26. The shopkeeper reports “Brian and Gabby came to Rustic Row. They told me they were traveling from Florida. They had just been to Teton Park and they said they were interested in going to Yellowstone and I told them they could go to the west entrance.”
Meanwhile, YouTubers Jenn and Kyle Bethune said Sunday they noticed the van Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were traveling in on August 27. “We came across a white van that had Florida plates,” Jenn Bethune said. “A small white van. We were going to stop and say hi because we’re from Florida, too, but the van was completely dark. There was nobody there, so we decided to continue on our way.”
Finally, on August 29, a TikTok user named Miranda Baker claims to have given Laundrie a lift. According to her, she and her boyfriend picked him up at Grand Teton. Laundrie said he “needed to go to Jackson,” but about 20 minutes later, when “Jackson Hole” was mentioned, Laundrie wanted to exit the vehicle.
“Once I said Jackson Hole, he became agitated,” she said in one of the videos. “He seemed like he needed to get out, he was kind of antsy. And that’s when things got weird. I’m hoping this can help someone identify him because I saw him from TikTok, which then made me call the authorities.”
Analysts say social media users have been so helpful because Petito and Laundrie lived their lives publicly, often filming their travels. Additionally, crime podcasts and shows kindled interest in dramas and mysteries like the Petito case. With luck, they’ll continue submitting tips and helping FBI officials.